Podcast: Charles Musser, “From Stereopticon to Telephone: The Selling of the President in the Gilded Age”

Contrary to our received notions on the newness of new media, the presidential campaigns of the late nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of media forms as advisers and technicians exploited a variety of forms promote their candidates and platforms, including the stereopticon (a modernized magic lantern), the phonograph, and the telephone. In the process, they set in motion not only a new way of imagining how to market national campaigns and candidates; they also helped to usher in novel forms of mass spectatorship. Analogies to presidential campaigns in the 21st century are inevitable—and will not be avoided. The presentation comes out of Charlie Musser’s new book, Politicking and Emergent Media: US Presidential Elections of the 1890s (University of California Press).

Charles Musser is professor of Film & Media Studies, American Studies and Theater Studies at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including the now-classic The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907. His most recent documentary is Errol Morris: A Lightning Sketch (2014).

Nathan Saucier

About Nathan Saucier

Nathan Saucier is a filmmaker and educator. Returning from two years teaching English and media classes at a university in South Korea, he joins CMS to work with the Creative Communities Initiative while pursuing diverse interests in non­fiction media making and education. Nathan is a graduate of Bard College’s film department, where he created documentaries and narrative shorts inspired by his time in Romania and the Balkans. His background includes work in film production and video streaming in Los Angeles. These experiences helped shape his interest in the culture and capabilities of live streaming. He is further interested in the relationship between filmmaker and subject in the context of participatory documentaries.