Dipartimento di Musica e Spettacolo - CONFERENZE, Women and the Silent Screen Conference

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Edna Vercoe’s Scrapbook "Romance with the Movies" (1914-1915)
Richard Abel

Last modified: 2010-05-12

Abstract


The Edna Vercoe scrapbooks, collected at the Margaret Herrick Library, offer a unique insight to early movie fan culture in the USA in the 1910s.  The scrapbooks consist of six large volumes composed by a fourteen-year girl in Highland Park, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), beginning in July 1914 and ending in early 1915, with some letters and loose clippings continuing into 1916. Selecting, arranging, and collaging texts and illustrations from the Chicago Tribune and fan magazines, together with an occasional “diary” of favorite stars and films, Vercoe fashioned a “wonder cabinet” representation of her own movie-going experience or “romance with the movies”.

I propose a case study of the Vercoe scrapbooks from three perspectives.  First, I will situate them briefly in the context of what is known about earlier and then current scrapbook collecting by young girls. Second, I will try to establish the material conditions of her movie-going experience: e.g., what movie theaters she probably frequented, the specific dated sources from which she clipped texts and images, the teenage friends who shared her fandom. Third, I will analyze the choices Vercoe has made in clipping texts and images, the principles informing her arrangement of those clippings, and what seem to be her specific interests in the movies and movie-going.

 


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