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The Author of Mass Entertainment

General Programming

dateOctober 29, 2013 timeTuesday, 6:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • School of the Arts
Face of young Charlie Chaplin and B&W movie projected on two cinema screens

Critics of the auteur theory tend to represent it as an awkward latecomer to the movie scene, an arriviste either willfully blind to, or else hopelessly out of touch with, the fundamentally collaborative nature of filmmaking. But this view of auteur theory fails to account for its popularity from the early decades of the twentieth century, long before Truffaut formulated his version of it. During the twenties and thirties, for instance, Charlie Chaplin was regularly hailed as a one-man dynamo who "did everything" on his films. This talk will focus on Chaplin's career, and in particular on City Lights, to help explain the paradoxical appeal of the auteur in mass entertainment, and to explore Chaplin's surprisingly complex response to the problem of the auteur as one among the many of his collaborators and his audience.

Free and open to the public. First-come, first-seated.

  • Jeffrey Knapp Professor of English University of California, Berkeley
  • James Schamus Professor of Professional Practice, Film Division, School of the Arts Columbia University