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Love Rules

Silent Hollywood and the Rise of the Managerial Class

2003
Author:

Mark Garrett Cooper

Love Rules

Traces the surprising connections between silent films and the rise of bureaucracy

Through close study of such films as Birth of a Nation, Enoch Arden, The Crowd, Why Change Your Wife? and The Jazz Singer, Mark Garrett Cooper uncovers an intimate connection between Hollywood romances of the silent era and the empowerment of a managerial class.

In a rich, ambitious argument, Cooper discusses the process of creating ‘spatial stories’ as well as temporal narratives and argues that the U.S. itself was changed by the processes of the production and reception of film. Complex, lucid, largely convincing. Essential.

Choice

Arguing for a sweeping new consideration of the shift from print to cinema as a governing system for organizing modern American social relations, this book uncovers an intimate connection between Hollywood romances of the silent era and the empowerment of a managerial class.

During the 1910s and 1920s, American movies told love stories through what rapidly became ubiquitous images. Again and again, silent features showed lovers separated by seeming happenstance and reunited as if by magical forces. Mark Garrett Cooper argues that this “magic” implies the expertise of the corporate movie studio with its hierarchies of professional experts. In other words, the Hollywood love story amounts to a managerial technique. Through close study of such films as Birth of a Nation, Enoch Arden, The Crowd, Why Change Your Wife? and The Jazz Singer, Love Rules shows how cinematic romance offers an object lesson in how to arrange American society—a lesson that implies that such work can be accomplished only by a managerial class.

Love Rules offers a boldly original account of how the Hollywood feature film supplanted the “imagined community” of print culture and, in doing so, played a key role in the transformation of American mass culture.


Awards

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Love Rules

Mark Garrett Cooper is assistant professor of English at Florida State University.

Love Rules

In a rich, ambitious argument, Cooper discusses the process of creating ‘spatial stories’ as well as temporal narratives and argues that the U.S. itself was changed by the processes of the production and reception of film. Complex, lucid, largely convincing. Essential.

Choice

Readers will find Love Rules a thought-provoking and significant contribution to the analysis of visual narrative and its undeniable connection to the functioning of corporate capitalism.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History

A bold intervention into ongoing debates about American film history. Love Rules makes a serious contribution to research on the topics of corporate capitalism, the cinema, and the transformation of American culture in the early twentieth century.

Film Criticism