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'We didn't need dialogue, we had faces': The Public Bodies of Gloria Swanson


Straumann, Barbara (2012). 'We didn't need dialogue, we had faces': The Public Bodies of Gloria Swanson. PhiN. Philologie im Netz, 5:128-146.

Abstract

This paper focuses on Gloria Swanson's career in silent film as a particularly compelling case of modern stardom and its exchanges with the cinematic medium and the public. While her early films establish her as one of the first stars and glamour icons in the history of Hollywood, Swanson's screen appearances also develop a remarkable self-reflexivity which both enacts and undermines the mythical structures underpinning star bodies in their public and medial constructions. In my discussion of selected scenes from Male and Female (1919), Stage Struck (1925) and Queen Kelly (1929), I trace the overdetermined mise-en-scène of Swanson's star body, her direct audience address as well as her protean performance between glamour and corporeal comedy. At the same time, I show how in drawing on both earlier cinematic traditions and the cultural license of the 1920s, Swanson's specific stardom differs from other star treatments.

Abstract

This paper focuses on Gloria Swanson's career in silent film as a particularly compelling case of modern stardom and its exchanges with the cinematic medium and the public. While her early films establish her as one of the first stars and glamour icons in the history of Hollywood, Swanson's screen appearances also develop a remarkable self-reflexivity which both enacts and undermines the mythical structures underpinning star bodies in their public and medial constructions. In my discussion of selected scenes from Male and Female (1919), Stage Struck (1925) and Queen Kelly (1929), I trace the overdetermined mise-en-scène of Swanson's star body, her direct audience address as well as her protean performance between glamour and corporeal comedy. At the same time, I show how in drawing on both earlier cinematic traditions and the cultural license of the 1920s, Swanson's specific stardom differs from other star treatments.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:13 Feb 2013 16:10
Last Modified:11 May 2016 09:46
Publisher:Freie Universität Berlin
ISSN:1433-7177
Additional Information:Audiences, Networks, Performances: Studies in U.S.-American Media History. PhiN: Philologie im Netz Beiheft/Supplement. Ed. Antje Kley, Peter Schneck.
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://web.fu-berlin.de/phin/beiheft5/b5t5.htm

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