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The Immigrant Scene

Ethnic Amusements in New York, 1880–1920

2008
Author:

Sabine Haenni

The Immigrant Scene

Explores the relationship between immigrant and national culture

Sabine Haenni reveals how theaters in New York created ethnic entertainment that shaped the culture of the United States in the early twentieth century. In analyzing how communities engaged with immigrant theaters and the nascent film culture in New York City, Haenni traces the ways in which performance and cinema provided virtual mobility and influenced national ideas of immigration, culture, and diversity in surprising ways.

A big, bold, and important book. The Immigrant Scene breaks new ground in urban cultural history and performance studies while building bridges between earlier works of history and a new generation of scholarship.

Robert W. Snyder, author of The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York

Yiddish melodramas about the tribulations of immigration. German plays about alpine tourism. Italian vaudeville performances. Rubbernecking tours of Chinatown. In the New York City of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, these seemingly disparate leisure activities played similar roles: mediating the vast cultural, demographic, and social changes that were sweeping the nation’s largest city.

In The Immigrant Scene, Sabine Haenni reveals how theaters in New York created ethnic entertainment that shaped the culture of the United States in the early twentieth century. Considering the relationship between leisure and mass culture, The Immigrant Scene develops a new picture of the metropolis in which the movement of people, objects, and images on-screen and in the street helped residents negotiate the complexities of modern times.

In analyzing how communities engaged with immigrant theaters and the nascent film culture in New York City, Haenni traces the ways in which performance and cinema provided virtual mobility—ways of navigating the socially complex metropolis—and influenced national ideas of immigration, culture, and diversity in surprising and lasting ways.

The Immigrant Scene

Sabine Haenni is associate professor in the Department of Theatre, Film, and Dance and in the American Studies Program at Cornell University.

The Immigrant Scene

A big, bold, and important book. The Immigrant Scene breaks new ground in urban cultural history and performance studies while building bridges between earlier works of history and a new generation of scholarship.

Robert W. Snyder, author of The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York

In a series of captivating scenes, Sabine Haenni documents and theorizes the highly theatrical nature of urban life and leisure. This book reveals the crucial role that immigrants and their unique public spheres played in shaping modern urban experience, encounter, and exchange in American culture at large.

Jacqueline Stewart, author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity

Haenni provides an introduction to little-known worlds that began to make a consumer-driven Hollywood film culture long before there was a Hollywood.

Journal of American Ethnic History