his book has taken a long time to complete, and I am indebted to a
great people for the various kinds of support they have provided
the way.
At the University of Chicago, Miriam Hansen’s advice and encourage-
ment were instrumental to my earliest conceptualization of this research.
Miriam was more than just a mentor; her formidable critical presence, com-
bined with her unique sense of humor and affection, were deeply inspira-
tional. One of my greatest regrets about this book’s overdue completion is
that she is no longer here to see it in print. I was doubly fortunate, however,
also to work with Tom Gunning, whose careful readings greatly sharpened
my critical skills. Tom’s continued support and friendship have meant the
world to me. I am grateful to Jim Lastra and Bill Brown, who were early
readers of this project, and W. J. T. Mitchell and Yuri Tsivian for guidance
and support. Jay Williams taught me the useful skill of copy editing while
keeping a sense of humor when I worked as an editorial assistant at Criti-
cal Inquiry. Members of the University of Chicago’s Mass Culture Work-
shop provided feedback on this project in its earliest stages. Elisabeth Ceppi,
Sabine Haenni, and Jacqueline Stewart patiently read numerous early chap-
ter drafts and provided valuable suggestions. Paula Amad, Kaveh Askari, Sam
Baker, Dan Morgan, Charles Tepperman, Pam Wojcik, Paul Young, and Josh
Yumibe have generously exchanged research and helped shape my critical
thinking over the years. Special thanks to Oliver Gaycken, whose own work
on early science films reflects our shared fascination with early nonfiction.
When I began this project, what is now the eye Film Institute Nether-
lands was then the Nederlands Filmmuseum. My thanks to Daan Hertogs
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