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‘I had a hunch that blockbusters were going to have a special place in our technologized age’

New book by Concordia prof Charles Acland is honoured in Choice magazine
February 25, 2022

On the left, a man in a sleeveless leather jerkin holding a wreath. On the right: Wonder Woman — a woman with gold bracelets and long dark hair. Images courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. Pictures.

From Ben-Hur to Wonder Woman, blockbuster movies have been part of our lives for generations.

Charles Acland, professor of communication studies in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science, set out to look at why these kinds of movies fascinate us. That’s the focus of his latest book, American Blockbuster: Movies, Technology, Wonder, which Choice magazine recently honoured as a 2021 Outstanding Academic Title (Film Studies).

“I was surprised, and a little humbled, to hear the news,” Acland says. “Choice is a venue that reviews thousands of books each year. To have been selected out of such a vast pool was completely unexpected.”

Book cover with a camera lens and the words "American Blockbuster"

Big movies and the role of technology

Acland says he began his research amid talk of the death of “big movies.”

“I had a hunch that something different was transpiring and that blockbusters were going to have a special place in our technologized age for a while to come,” he explains.

The book’s reception, and this accolade, make it clear that the subject is resonating with readers and movie-watchers alike.

American Blockbuster examines how technology has shaped and continues to shape mega-films. One chapter looks at the impact of James Cameron’s career in terms of blockbuster movies, from Titanic to Avatar.

Acland notes that although Cameron took many years between the mega-hits, the director was never idle, studying the best ways to bring his work to life and using the most cutting-edge technology.

Praise for peers

Acland says he is happy to join the ranks of fellow Concordians honoured by Choice.

“Others who have been graced in the past include Mia Consalvo, Tom Waugh and Haidee Wasson,” he says. Consalvo is a fellow communication studies professor and Waugh and Wasson are both Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema faculty.

And as for future projects, Acland has no plans to slow down.

“I continue to write about the politics of popular culture, with essays on authoritarian populism, post-pandemic entertainment industries and the mythologies of technologized education.”

Read more about Concordia professor of communication studies Charles Acland’s new book, American Blockbuster: Movies, Technology, Wonder.


Learn more about Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies.


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