Frank Capra's America - Introduction and Title Page

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On January 9, 1999, during the annual American Historical Association (AHA) meeting in Washington DC, The Popular Culture Association, Film & History, and the AHA co-sponsored a conference session on the films and legacy of Frank Capra. The session was titled "Frank Capra's Populism: Timebound or Timeless?" Capra's films have made an indelible impact on 20th-century America, serving as both commentaries on and artifacts of American culture. Few historians are more able and competent to analyze them than Robert Brent Toplin, Lawrence Levine, and Dan T. Carter. We obtained permission from all three to tape their presentations and to utilize their talks in The JMMH. When we heard their presentations, we knew that out of all of the sessions we had taped at the AHA—and there were many—this was the one we wanted to showcase. Those who later heard our recordings heartily agreed with us.

We are especially proud of this piece, not only because of the high quality of the talks, but because re-presenting the Capra joint session in an enhanced multimedia format, including film excerpts, demonstrates clearly the unique opportunities hypermedia provides for the scholarly analysis and review of non-textual material.

Please note that we have transcribed the presentations as they were delivered—these are not final, finished works. However, we have added, wherever possible and with the presenters' cooperation, brief reference notes placed within the body of the transcription [they are in brackets]. We view these notes as aids to readers interested in pursuing in greater detail the ideas presented by Toplin, Levine, and Carter. The text follows the audio selections accessible via links at the top of each Web page. To facilitate rapid browser loading and for the convenience of our readers, we have divided the three speakers' talks into short segments.

We hope to publish many more such features in the future and we want to encourage our readers to consider submitting audiotaped and videotaped conference sessions to us, or better yet—fully formatted HTML-coded, multimedia versions of conference sessions.

The Editors

Robert Brent Toplin        

  A Stunning Example of Success
  This Notion That the Little Guy Has Dignity
  The Women Were Usually Strong
  Some Critical Questions

Lawrence  Levine        

  Capra's Popularity
  Capra and the Politics of Culture
  Capra's Fundamental Values
  Pessimism in Capra's Cultural Politics

Dan T. Carter       

  What Would Mr. Gingrich Have Said?
  Capra and American Democracy


Introduction | Toplin | Levine | Carter | Multimedia Index | Credits | JMMH

Frank Capra's America
Copyright © 1999 by The Journal for MultiMedia History