Identifier

etd-05192011-005159

Degree

Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)

Department

Liberal Arts

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

France in the early decades of the 20th century underwent a profound identity crisis. Torn between tradition and modernity, the country perceived itself to be isolated internationally and threatened politically, economically, and culturally by both internal and external forces. In French eyes, the United States moved rapidly from an ally to an adversary that not only opposed France on major foreign policy issues after World War I, but threatened the European continent both economically and culturally. For broad segments of the French elite, the United States represented modernity – and everything that was wrong with it. Contributing powerfully to anti-American sentiment in France were cultural exports from the United States, especially motion pictures. Hollywood was, for French cultural nationalists, both a symbol of what they disliked about the United States – a society shaped by the assembly-line and, hence, once characterized by intellectual, spiritual, and artistic mediocrity – and a threat to French culture and the very existence of the French movie industry. Hollywood achieved a dominant position in the French (and world) market during the war and maintained that position in the inter-war period. French audiences, in general, applauded American films and were enthusiastic about American film stars, especially those who visited Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, but French film critics tended to regard Hollywood movies as shallow, artificial, and, because they came off studio assembly-lines, irritatingly repetitive. The advent of sound proved to be a boon to French filmmakers, but Hollywood continued to dominate French screens, a situation temporarily ended only by the outbreak of a new war in 1939. Throughout the post-1917 period, including the World War II years, Hollywood studios themselves were a microcosm of the cultural war as French movie personnel who emigrated to the United States found themselves caught up in a factory-like system that emphasized standardized products geared for a mass market and left little room for artistic creativity.

Date

2011

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Shindo, Charles J.

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