Exceptionally popular during their time, the spectacular American action film serials of the 1910s featured exciting stunts, film tricks, and effects set against the background of modern technology, often starring resourceful female heroines who displayed traditionally male qualities such as endurance, strength, and authority. The most renowned of these "serial queens" was Pearl White, whose career as the adventurous character Pauline developed during a transitional phase in the medium's evolving production strategies, distribution and advertising patterns, and fan culture. In this volume, an international group of scholars explores how American serials starring Pearl White and other female stars impacted the emerging cinemas in the United States and abroad. Contributors investigate the serial genre and its narrative patterns, marketing, and cultural reception, and historiographic importance, with essays on Pearl White's life on and off the screen as well as the "serial queen" genre in Western and Eastern Europe, India, and China.
Contributors are Weihong Bao, Rudmer Canjels, Marina Dahlquist, Monica Dall'Asta, Kevin B. Johnson, Christina Petersen, and Rosie Thomas.
Introduction: Why Pearl?
1. Changing Views and Perspectives: Translating Pearl White’s American Adventures in Wartime France
2. “The Best-Known Woman in the World”: Pearl White and the American Serial Film in Sweden
3. Pearl, the Swift One, or the Extraordinary Adventures of Pearl White in France
4. “The Most Assassinated Woman in the World”: Pearl White and the First Avant-Garde
5. Fascinations for the Nation: American Serial Film, Czechoslovakia, and the Afterlives of Pearl
6. Not Quite (Pearl) White: Fearless Nadia, Queen of the Stunts
7. From Pearl White to White Rose Woo: Tracing the Vernacular Body of nüxia in Chinese Silent Cinema
Weihong Bao is assistant professor of film and media and Chinese studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
"This consistently clear and accessible collection includes fascinating case studies on film star Pearl White and the impact of the serial film format, examining an important but still under-examined area in early cinema."
--Vicki Callahan, editor of Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History
"A welcome addition to the scant literature on the circulation of film stars and genres across the globe during the early 20th century. . . . a fascinating snapshot of the cultures and cinemas of Europe and Asia. Highly Recommended."--Choice
"These differing, though complementary perspectives, inform Dahlquist's brilliantly edited collection on White without carelessly valorizing her status as an early screen icon. The historical accounts are vivid and convincing, while the influence on artistic and theoretical movements is superbly rendered."--Slant Magazine