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Suffrage and the Silver Screen

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Amy Shore

In the 1910s, the American woman suffrage movement became a modern mass movement by using visual culture to transform consciousness and gain adherents. As part of this transformation, suffrage organizations produced several films and related cinematic projects, including four full-length, nationally distributed feature productions. This activist use was one of the first instances in the United States that a social movement recognized and harnessed the power of cinema to transform consciousness and, in turn, the social order. Suffrage and the Silver Screen discusses how the suffrage movement accomplished this formidable goal through analysis of the local and national uses of cinema by the movement. Amy Shore argues that these works must be considered as part of a political filmmaking tradition among feminists. The book contextualizes the films within the politics and practices of the suffrage organizations that produced them in order to understand and assess the strategic role of these films. By examining these works, the history of both suffrage and cinema is necessarily reconsidered and expanded. Suffrage and the Silver Screen is an essential resource for those studying early cinema, women and cinema, the woman suffrage movement, and the use of visual media in social movements.
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“Amy Shore has uncovered a wealth of new information to document the enormous impact of early motion pictures on the campaign for women’s suffrage. In doing so, she challenges conventional histories of the suffrage movement which have tended to view cinema and other visual media as, at best, footnotes to the larger campaign. A phenomenal study, Suffrage and the Silver Screen is essential reading for anyone interested in histories of feminism, activist cinema, and the role of visual culture in modern politics.”

Shelley Stamp, Author of Movie-Struck Girls:Women and Motion Picture Culture after the Nickelodeon

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