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Hendrix Professor Publishes Book on Significance of Documentaries

CONWAY, Ark. (April 25, 2018) – Hendrix College Professor Joshua Glick has published a book exploring the diversity of documentary filmmaking in Los Angeles between the post-World War II period and the late 1970s and how it shaped public consciousness.

Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977 examines the documentaries of this time by approaching them in three groupings: the John F. Kennedy era, the period following the Watts Uprising, and the years surrounding the United States Bicentennial. Glick covers the work of both mainstream and alternative documentary filmmakers in a city more commonly associated with large-scale fiction productions.

“I think LA is a place more known for fiction — most notably Hollywood — but it has a long history of creating a variety of nonfiction films and television programs, particularly in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “Also, LA is an incredibly multiracial, multicultural metropolis. The diverse communities of the city are often obscured by Hollywood media.”

As Assistant Professor of English and Film & Media Studies, Glick teaches courses on documentary, race, early cinema, and emerging media formations. His research for the book involved going through archives all over Los Angeles, interviewing filmmakers, and obsessively searching old newspapers and magazines to learn about production history and how particular films were received. The project complemented Glick’s natural interest in places with complex identities.

“Documentary intersects with so many academic fields (social history, media studies, communications) and encourages questions about politics and how representations shape our lives,” he said.

One thread of the book’s narrative surveys Wolper Productions, a Hollywood studio that produced a tremendous amount of documentary film and television — including the 1977 miniseries Roots and the film version of the Theodore H. White book The Making of the President, 1960, which chronicled and analyzed the election that put John F. Kennedy in the White House.

Another strand that runs parallel to the Wolper Productions thread is the work of local filmmakers associated with public television, the universities, and independent collectives.

“Public television in Los Angeles in the early ’70s was a great resource for those interested in advocating for social justice,” Glick said. “I learned how films resonated both locally and nationally, and learned the importance of public broadcasting in helping documentarians to find their audience and influence social movements.”

Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977 is published by the University of California Press and is available in paperback, hardcover, or as an e-book.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit