The End of the Gold Standard: Finance, Crisis, and the Cinema of the New Left, 1967–1974
This dissertation is a comparative analysis of emergent visual cultures in the U.S.A., Europe, and South America within the context of the global political and economic crises of that moment. The period that frames the dissertation is the era economists have come to call “floating Bretton Woods,” which saw the breakdown of the post-war economic order defined by the dollar-gold standard. By developing a theoretical framework to analyze a diverse and international set of media practices, I present an original historical account of a heterogeneous phenomenon in visual culture, which I call the “Cinema of the New Left.” Addressing avant-garde film, video, and television experiments that took place both within and alongside New Left political movements, I develop a new language for analyzing these movements in a moment of crucial global transition. In its approach to film form, my research is concerned with the re-emergence of the “essay film” within international avant-garde film cultures, and the manner in which this form was translated into different geopolitical contexts and media. Theoretically, this dissertation combines the fields of Film and Media Studies with the emerging field of Critical Financial Studies, and works to understand what Randy Martin calls the “financialization of daily life” at the level of visual culture. In essence, this dissertation draws together interdisciplinary historical and theoretical approaches in order to examine a process we might describe as the “financialization of the image,” and seeks to ground this analysis in a concrete set of historical situations that typify the transition between modernity and post-modernity, Fordism and post-Fordism, industrial and financial capitalism. While traditional analyses of the political economy of cinema focus on a critique of the commodity form, or on specific economic practices within film production (especially Hollywood cinema), this dissertation offers a new set of terms such as debt, inflation, and credit to the analysis of moving-image culture in order to better theorize the role of finance in shaping our contemporary visual environment.