Contrary to our received notions on the newness of new media, the presidential campaigns of the late nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of media forms as advisers and technicians exploited a variety of forms promote their candidates and platforms, including the stereopticon (a modernized magic lantern), the phonograph, and the telephone. In the process, they set in motion not only a new way of imagining how to market national campaigns and candidates; they also helped to usher in novel forms of mass spectatorship. Historian Charles Musser will present and discuss his new book, Politicking and Emergent Media: US Presidential Elections of the 1890s (University of California Press), with critic and writer Thomas Beard.
Charles Musser is professor of American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including the now-classic The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, the first in a trilogy concerning American early cinema.
Thomas Beard is a cofounder and director of Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art, as well as a Programmer at Large for the Film Society of Lincoln Center.