The Process Genre

Cinema and the Aesthetic of Labor

The Process Genre

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 224 illustrations, incl. 60 in color Published: March 2020

Latin American Studies, Media Studies > Film, Theory and Philosophy > Critical Theory

From IKEA assembly guides and “hands-and-pans” cooking videos on social media to Mister Rogers's classic factory tours, representations of the step-by-step fabrication of objects and food are ubiquitous in popular media. In The Process Genre Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky introduces and theorizes the process genre—a heretofore unacknowledged and untheorized transmedial genre characterized by its representation of chronologically ordered steps in which some form of labor results in a finished product. Originating in the fifteenth century with machine drawings, and now including everything from cookbooks to instructional videos and art cinema, the process genre achieves its most powerful affective and ideological results in film. By visualizing technique and absorbing viewers into the actions of social actors and machines, industrial, educational, ethnographic, and other process films stake out diverse ideological positions on the meaning of labor and on a society's level of technological development. In systematically theorizing a genre familiar to anyone with access to a screen, Skvirsky opens up new possibilities for film theory.


“Thank goodness there are still film genres to discover! Covering a broad historical and geographical range, from Japan to Chile and from early cinema to YouTube, Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky's study of the cinematic work of work is both meticulously argued and strikingly original.” — Jonathan Kahana, editor of The Documentary Film Reader: History, Theory, Criticism


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Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky is Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0644-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0540-7
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