Many individuals and a variety of institutions provided invaluable assis-
tance to this project as it developed from its inception in 1993. I must first
thank six mentors. Mimi White taught me how to think about television
and gave me support, encouragement, and friendship besides. I am in-
debted to Jim Schwoch for his many careful readings and for his intellec-
tual generosity as a historian and theorist of electronic media. Tom Gun-
ning and Laura Kipnis both taught me how to write and how to enjoy
writing; I thank Tom for inspiring a love of the archive and for kindling
my visual and historical curiosity. I thank Laura for her friendship and
discernment and for demonstrating the creative, and political, work of
cultural criticism. I am also particularly grateful to Mark Williams, who
inspired the dissertation that became this book, and to Jeanine Basinger,
my first teacher, who remains a model in the classroom and in the movie
This project was supported at different stages by a number of institu-
tions. Several research trips were funded by a dissertation year grant from
the Graduate School of Northwestern University and by a research grant
from the University Film and Video Association. Some research was also
completed over the course of two fellowships, one from the Alumnae of
Northwestern and one from the Smithsonian Institution. The College of
Arts and Sciences and the department of Communications Studies at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provided valuable support
in the form of a research-and-study leave. I also thank the department
of Cinema Studies in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for crucial research
support in the final stages.
Many curators and librarians generously shared their knowledge and
time during the research process. I wish to thank the staff of the Louisiana
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