Frank J. Wetta and Martin A. Novelli’s Abraham Lincoln and Women in Film investigates how depictions of women in Hollywood motion pictures helped forge the myth of Lincoln. Exploring female characters’ backstories, the political and cultural climate in which the films appeared, and the contest between the moviemakers’ imaginations and the varieties of historical truth, Wetta and Novelli place the women in Lincoln’s life at the center of the study, including his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln; his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln; his lost loves, Ann Rutledge and Mary Owens; and his wife and widow, Mary Todd Lincoln. Later, while inspecting Lincoln’s legacy, they focus on the 1930s child actor Shirley Temple and the 1950s movie star Marilyn Monroe, who had a well-publicized fascination with the sixteenth president.
Wetta and Novelli’s work is the first to deal extensively with the women in Lincoln’s life, both those who interacted with him personally and those appearing on screen. It is also among the first works to examine how scholarly and popular biography influenced depictions of Lincoln, especially in film.
Frank J. Wetta is former vice president of academic affairs at Ocean County College in New Jersey and former lecturer and senior fellow in the Department of History at Kean University.
Martin A. Novelli is the former dean of humanities, fine arts, and media studies at Ocean County College in New Jersey.
Wetta and Novelli are coauthors of The Long Reconstruction: The Post–Civil War South in History, Film, and Memory and Last Stands from the Alamo to Benghazi: How Hollywood Turns Military Defeats into Moral Victories.
“Abraham Lincoln and Women in Film gets at the man behind the myth by examining the women in the life of the Great Emancipator. The book deconstructs Lincoln’s fabled persona across film, biography, and culture by considering the role his relationships with women played in its construction. By foregrounding gender, the authors offer a new way of understanding this much-studied figure while shedding light on the women who shaped Lincoln and his filmic representation.”
~Jacqueline Pinkowitz, director of film studies at Mercer University
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