My dissertation, “‘It’s a Creative Business’: The Ideas, Practices, and Interaction that Made the Hollywood Studio System,” seeks to reveal the day-to-day reality inside this industry during its golden age, c. 1930-50, by examining the effect that work relations and politics had on cinematic production and content. It is a social history of Hollywood that will recover the organization of both labor and the creative process through which movies were produced. Surveying the archives of producers, directors, writers, and actors as well as those of the studios, I aim to reconstruct the industry’s division of labor — the different roles created by it, how they were experienced by the people who occupied them, and to what extent this experience affected the on-screen result. It is an attempt to understand how everyday routines and interactions shape entertainment through the industry and time period that transformed this profession from a local experience to a national and global one.
Irene Elizabeth Stroud
My project investigates American Protestant politics of reproduction around the turn of the 20th century, through the career of Episcopal reformer Kate Waller Barrett. Barrett was the founder of the National Florence Crittenton Mission, a chain of maternity homes for unwed mothers. The Crittenton homes originated as missions to urban prostitutes, encouraging them to leave prostitution and find redemption in “respectable” employment and motherhood, and only evolved into homes for pregnant, middle-class teenagers (often coercing them to relinquish their children for adoption) later in the 20th century. Barrett’s leadership of the mission, documented in papers held at the University of Minnesota, illustrates the spirit of disciplining the poor that was often at work in turn-of-the century elite feminism, and also provides an example of the influence of eugenics on Progressive social reform movements.