Movies in American History

An Encyclopedia

by Philip C. DiMare, Editor


From Birth of a Nation to Bonnie and Clyde. From The Graduate to Risky Business. Throughout American history, movies have engaged us, portrayed our society, and reflected the vibrancy of popular culture. Film is more than mere entertainment; it showcases and explores who we are, what we want, and what we believe.

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Cover image for Movies in American History

June 2011


Pages 1232
Volumes 3
Size 7x10
Topics American History/Culture

This provocative three-volume encyclopedia is a valuable resource for readers seeking an understanding of how movies have both reflected and helped engender America's political, economic, and social history.

Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia is a reference text focused on the relationship between American society and movies and filmmaking in the United States from the late 19th century through the present. Beyond discussing many important American films ranging from Birth of a Nation to Star Wars to the Harry Potter film series, the essays included in the volumes explore sensitive issues in cinema related to race, class, and gender, authored by international scholars who provide unique perspectives on American cinema and history.

Written by a diverse group of distinguished scholars with backgrounds in history, film studies, culture studies, science, religion, and politics, this reference guide will appeal to readers new to cinema studies as well as film experts. Each encyclopedic entry provides data about the film, an explanation of the film's cultural significance and influence, information about significant individuals involved with that work, and resources for further study.


  • Provides 450 A–Z entries that comprehensively cover the historical significance of subjects, people, and films of the American cinema
  • Contains contributions from 150 distinguished interdisciplinary scholars offering their analysis on the role of movies in American history
  • Includes reference materials and suggestions for further reading with every entry


  • Provides an exhaustive history of American cinema from the late 19th century to the present
  • Explores film in relation to societal issues of race, gender, and class
  • Gathers extensive, diverse discussions of movie genres in a single reference text
  • Contains materials comprehensive and specific enough for cinema students while also being accessible to readers without a cinema studies background
Author Info

Philip C. DiMare is a lecturer in the departments of Humanities and Religious Studies and History at California State University, Sacramento, CA. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on religious studies, multicultural studies, and American history. DiMare is general editor for the forthcoming ABC-CLIO offerings Encyclopedia of Religion and Politics in America and Ethnic America on Film: The Complete Resource, and is completing work on American Visions: A History of the American People, a two-volume U.S. history text. He is also working on a new book, Cinemas of Turmoil: American Myth-Making and Hollywood Genre Films.



"With its particular context, and with contributors coming from a variety of backgrounds, including history, religion, science, and politics as well as film, this resource offers an interesting angle on the study of film. Recommended for large public libraries and for college libraries supporting film and popularculture programs."Booklist

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