University of Rochester

EVENT: Acclaimed Film Historian to Give Local Lecture
Lea Jacobs invited as visiting scholar at University's Susan B. Anthony Institute

November 9, 2000

Film historian Lea Jacobs will be in Rochester in December as the visiting scholar at the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Rochester. Her research on the early years of cinema is considered among the most outstanding work in the field of historical film studies.

Jacobs will present the lecture "A Sentimental Journey: Creating the Woman's Picture" at 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 4, at the George Eastman House's Dryden Theater. Following her lecture, the Dryden will offer a rare screening of the silent 1927 classic After Midnight. This event is free to University of Rochester students with a student ID; admission is $4 for other students and $5 for the general public.

Jacobs, professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is widely known for her first book, The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film 1928-1942. Her work was praised in Sight and Sound, a film magazine in the United Kingdom, as "a fine addition to the social history of cinema and to feminist film scholarship." Her book Theatre to Cinema, co-authored with Ben Brewster, is also highly regarded in the film studies field.

Directed by Monta Bell, After Midnight is, in Jacobs' own words, "one of a series of films made in the 1920s about the 'jazz life' and modern single girls. Like many of its prototypes this film contrasts the fate of two girls, in this case sisters: Mary (Norma Shearer), thrifty, resourceful, and somewhat wary of involvement with men, and Maizie (Gwen Lee), a bit dizzy and vague, rather loose with money and eager to live the 'fast' life. The film employs startling shifts in tone-the cynicism of sophisticated comedy alternating with domestic melodrama-which, along with its use of elaborate tracking shots and even some early zooms, make it one of the most interesting of the 'jazz age' stories."

In addition to her presentation at the Dryden Theater, Jacobs will also hold a seminar 11 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 5, in 361 Rush Rhees Library on the University's River Campus. Discussion for this seminar will be based on Jacobs' article, "The Woman's Picture and the Poetics of Melodrama," in issue 31 of the journal Camera Obscura, and on the article, "Melodrama and the Woman's Picture," by Steve Neale in the book Genre and Hollywood.

Jacobs received her doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles with her dissertation, "Reforming the Fallen Woman Cycle: Strategies in Film Censorship 1930-1940."

For more information contact the Susan B. Anthony Institute at (585) 275-8318 or visit the web site