Intelligence Work establishes a new genealogy of
American social documentary, proposing a fresh critical approach to
the aesthetic and political issues of nonfiction cinema and media.
Jonathan Kahana argues that the use of documentary film by
intellectuals, activists, government agencies, and community groups
constitutes a national-public form of culture, one that challenges
traditional oppositions between official and vernacular speech,
between high art and popular culture, and between academic
knowledge and common sense. Placing iconic images and the work of
celebrated filmmakers next to overlooked and rediscovered
productions, Kahana demonstrates how documentary collects and
delivers the evidence of the American experience to the public
sphere, where it lends force to political movements and gives
substance to the social imaginary.
Subjects: Film Studies, Political Science, History
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