Never Done: A History of Women's Work in Media Production

Never Done: A History of Women's Work in Media Production

by Erin Hill


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Winner of the 2018 Society for Cinema Studies Best First Book Award

Histories of women in Hollywood usually recount the contributions of female directors, screenwriters, designers, actresses, and other creative personnel whose names loom large in the credits. Yet, from its inception, the American film industry relied on the labor of thousands more women, workers whose vital contributions often went unrecognized. 
Never Done introduces generations of women who worked behind the scenes in the film industry—from the employees’ wives who hand-colored the Edison Company’s films frame-by-frame, to the female immigrants who toiled in MGM’s backrooms to produce beautifully beaded and embroidered costumes. Challenging the dismissive characterization of these women as merely menial workers, media historian Erin Hill shows how their labor was essential to the industry and required considerable technical and interpersonal skills. Sketching a history of how Hollywood came to define certain occupations as lower-paid “women’s work,” or “feminized labor,” Hill also reveals how enterprising women eventually gained a foothold in more prestigious divisions like casting and publicity.   
Poring through rare archives and integrating the firsthand accounts of women employed in the film industry, the book gives a voice to women whose work was indispensable yet largely invisible. As it traces this long history of women in Hollywood, Never Done reveals the persistence of sexist assumptions that, even today, leave women in the media industry underpraised and underpaid. 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813574868
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 10/05/2016
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

ERIN HILL worked in film development before returning to academia to study the media industry. She is currently a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Dartmouth College’s Foreign Study Program in Los Angeles.  

Table of Contents

1 Paper Trail: Efficiency, Clerical Labor, and Women in the Early Film Industry
2 Studio Tours: Feminized Labor in the Studio System
3 The Girl Friday and How She Grew: Female Clerical Workers and/as the System
4 “His Acolyte on the Altar of Cinema”: The Studio Secretary’s Creative Service
5 Studio Girls: Women’s Professions in Media Production
Epilogue: The Legacy of “Women’s Work” in Contemporary Hollywood
Appendix: Work Roles Divided By Gender as Represented in Studio Tours Films

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