Writing a book is no easy task. It takes a lot of time, discipline, and patience to not only complete it, but see it through to publication. So, when you learn that someone has been involved in not just one, but two books, AND that they both came out within a few weeks of each other…well, you can’t help but be impressed!

Such was the case with Professor Emily Carman, who wrote
Independent Stardom: Freelance Women in the Hollywood Studio System
and also edited the anthology
Hollywood and the Law
. Carman has been working on both for a long time, and now we can finally check them out.

Hollywood and the Law
is a collection shows how legal frameworks have shaped the culture and commerce of Hollywood film.

cover of hollywood and the law

Carman became involved with it after she co-chaired a panel for the Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference with her colleague Eric Hoyt. The panel was the genesis for the book.

“My role was always a co-editor and to co-author the essay on talent contracts, but as our original author line-up began to change, I became something of an interlocutor to recruit new contributors, which in some cases changed the topics of certain essays and topics we covered,” said Carman.

cover of indepdendent stardom book

Independent Stardom
, Carman explores a number of classic Hollywood actresses who refused to be part of the traditional contracted structure, and inside worked on a freelance basis within the restricted studio system. These women played an active role in not only shaping their careers, but also re-shaping Hollywood’s patriarchal structure.

Independent Stardom
truly began as my dissertation,” said Carman. “The journey for turning my dissertation into a book began in summer of 2009, so it took six years to bring the book to publication.”

Carman included every women she could find that was a freelance A-list actresses in 1930s Hollywood. She followed all the paper trails that were available, whether from motion picture documents archives or special collections libraries.

“That was the magic combination – freelance actress whose work and contracts I could find in the archives were included in the book,” said Carman.

headshot of emily carman

But it wasn’t easy to decide what was to stay in the book and what was to be removed.

“A definite challenge when doing archival research is quelling the desire to include all your discoveries and finds in the archives in your book,” said Carman. “There was just too much knowledge to fit into a structured thematic argument throughout the book without going on tangents. Sometimes I ended up deleting case studies or pages that took weeks of research, yet at the end of the day, it was the best editorial decision.”

Carman, who is a massive fan of the talented individuals included in the text, wanted to honor their legacy, which was a big motivator for writing the book.

“There has been much scrutiny about Hollywood sexism for women both in front of and behind the camera in the press last year. I hope that readers will emerge with a new understanding of women and the vital role that they played both on and off-screen in Hollywood cinema after completing my book,” said Carman.

Carman believes that if we understand Hollywood’s past more clearly in terms of the creative and innovative contributions that women made in American cinema, this will change the way we conceive of the industry now and shape its future.

“If anything, Hollywood just needs to return to its roots when it had compelling and dynamic roles for both women and men in front of the camera,” said Carman.

For more on Independent Stardom, check out the book’s
Facebook page

Carman will be signing her book on April 26 at Leatherby Library from 4-6PM in the Center for American War Letters Archives. For more information, call 714-532-6027 or email mellswo@chapman.edu