Across the Tracks: Love and Class in Film and History

full name / name of organization: 
Cynthia J. Miller/FIlm & History
contact email: 

Call for Papers
"Across the Tracks: Love and Class in Film and History"
2010 Film & History Conference: Representations of Love in Film and Television
November 11-14, 2010
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
Second Round Deadline: March 1, 2010

AREA: Across the Tracks: Love and Class in Film and History

Since cinema's earliest moments, inter-class romance has been a staple feature of popular films. Whether focusing a sympathetic eye on working-class life, as in The New Disciple (1921) and Metropolis (1927), or promoting cross-class fantasies, as in the classic Cinderella (1950), and its urban fairy tale update Pretty Woman (1990), the notion of love across the tracks has complicated the lives of cinematic characters, and called into question taken-for-granted notions about love and money. Generations of films reprise the dubious but pleasing notion that the sheer power of romantic love and attraction can—and does—transcend or circumvent social class strictures, lifting one of the lovers out of poverty, confirming his/ her inherent nobility, proving that life is rich in possibility, and that social hierarchies are merely temporary obstacles for the pure of heart.

This area, comprising multiple panels, welcomes papers and panel proposals that examine all forms and genres of films featuring inter-class romance, perhaps as wish-fulfillment fantasy or as an odd version of American Dream ideology that promises upward mobility not through dint of hard work, self-discipline and sacrifice but through the mechanisms of sexual attraction. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• 1920s Cross-Class Fantasies as Promoters of Class Harmony (Saturday Night; The Woman He Married)

• Working-class Machismo in Depression-era Fantasies (The Easiest Way; Finishing School; Alice Adams; It Happened One Night)

• Twisting Dreiser's Message: George Stevens' A Place in the Sun

• Cinderella Recast for the 1990s as Happy Hooker: Pretty Woman

• Dancing Across Brooklyn Bridge: Narcissism as Upward Mobility Engine in John Badham's Saturday Night Fever

• Sabrina at Two Cultural Moments (1955 and 1995)

• Class Trumps Gender (or does it?): David Mamet's House of Games

• Inter-class Romance as Historical Mystification: James Cameron's Titanic

• Substituting Proletarian for Gay: Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows

• Reagan-era ideology Disguised as Woman's Film: Mike Nichols' Working Girl

• Love Means Never Having to Discuss Class Differences: Arthur Hiller's Love Story

Please send your 200-word proposal by e-mail to the area chair:

Robert Niemi, Area Chair
Box 394
St. Michael's College
1 Winooski Park
Colchester, VT 05439
Email: OR (email submissions preferred)

Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (