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Professor J. E. Smyth

"'What in heaven’s name brought you to England?'

'My health. I came to England for the waters.'

'Waters-- what waters? We're in the middle of the Midlands.'

'I was misinformed.'"

Professor of History

B.A. Wellesley College

M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Yale University

Contact Information
Office: H328
virtual office hours beginning week 1: Tuesday 1-2; Wednesday 11-12
Undergraduate Teaching
Postgraduate Teaching
Selected Publications



  • 'The Outsider,' Cineaste, XLII, no. 4 (fall 2020).
  • 'Holiday (1930) and Holiday (1938),' Cineaste, XLV, no. 3 (summer 2020).
  • 'Outgrowing Little Women', Cineaste, XLV, no. 2 (spring 2020).
  • 'Ida Lupino's America: Just a Big Family of Little Failures', Cineaste, XLV, no. 1 (winter 2019).
  • "The Heiress," Cineaste, XLIV, no. 4 (fall 2019): 54-56.
  • 'Fighting with My Family', Cineaste, XLIV, no. 3 (summer 2019): 48-49.
  • 'Lean on Pete', Cineaste, XLIII, no. 4 (fall 2018): 47-49.
  • 'Laura Ziskin's Reboot of the Female Producer', Cineaste, XLIII, no. 3 (summer 2018): 24-30.
  • 'The Lion in Winter', Cineaste, XLIII, no. 3 (summer 2018), online exclusive.
  • 'Babylon Revisited', Cineaste, XLIII, no. 2 (spring 2018): 4-9.
  • 'I, Tonya', Cineaste, XLIII, no. 2 (spring 2018): 42-44.
  • 'From Here to Eternity', in Barry Keith Grant, ed., Books to Film: Cinematic Adaptations of Literary Works, Vol. 1 (New York: Cengage, 2018).
  • 'Battle of the Sexes', Cineaste, XLIII, no. 1 (winter 2017): 44-46.
  • 'Anatomy of the Prick Flick', Cineaste: 50th Anniversary Issue, XLII, no. 4 (fall 2017): 20-24.
  • 'Marsha Hunt: American Girl, Un-American Woman, Upstanding Centenarian', Sight and Sound (October 2017).
  • 'The McCall Years: When a Woman Called the Shots at the Screen Writers Guild', Written By (September 2017).
  • 'The First Woman President', Written By: The Magazine of the Writers Guild of America West (June 2017).
  • 'Barbara McLean: Editing, Authorship, and the Equal Right to Be the Best', Cineaste, XLII, no. 2 (spring 2017).
  • 'High Noon', Cineaste, XLII, no. 1 (winter 2016): 54-55.
  • 'Brief Encounter', Cineaste, XLI, no. 4 (fall 2016): 53-54.
  • 'Female Editors in Studio-Era Hollywood: Rethinking Feminist “Frontiers” and the Constraints of the Archives', in Patrice Petro, E. Ann Kaplan, Kristin Hole, and Dijana Jelaca, eds., The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender, 279-88 (London: Routledge, 2016).
  • 'Organization Women and Belle Rebels: Hollywood's Working Women in the 1930s', in Iwan Morgan, ed. Hollywood and the Great Depression, 66-85 (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).
  • 'A Woman at the Center of Hollywood's Wars: Mary C. McCall, Jr.', Cineaste, XLI, no. 3 (summer 2016): 18-23.
  • '45 Years', Cineaste, XLI, no. 3 (summer 2016): 46-47.
  • 'Children of Lidice: Searches, Shadows, Histories', in Monica Tempian and Simone Gigliotti, eds., Young Victims of the Nazi Regime: Migration, the Holocaust, and Postwar Displacement, 299-320 (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).
  • 'The Past, Present, and Future of Women's History on Screen: An Interview with Sarah Gavron', Cineaste, XLI, no. 1 (winter 2015): 18-21.
  • 'Suffragette', Cineaste, XLI, no. 1 (winter 2015): 45-46.
  • 'Hollywood as Historian, 1929-45', in Cynthia Lucia, Roy Grundmann, and Arthur Simon (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to American Film History: Selected Readings, Origins to 1960, 361-76 (Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).
  • 'Hollywood Under Siege', Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire, 49:3 (2014) 477-82.
  • 'The Western That Got Its Content ‘From Elsewhere’: High Noon, Fred Zinnemann, and Genre Cleansing', The Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 31 (2014): 42-55.
  • 'Against the Beat: Ragtime, Black History, and Postmodernism', Film Quarterly, 67: 1 (December 2013): 7-13.
  • 'Julia’s Resistant History: Women’s Historical Films in Hollywood and the Legacy of Citizen Kane', in Robert Rosenstone and Constantin Parvelescu (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to the Historical Film, 91-109 (Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).
  • 'The Organization Woman Behind The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit', Camera Obscura, 27: 2 (80) (2012): 61-91.
  • 'Julia (1977) and "The Long Road of Women's Memory"', in Smyth, ed. (2012).
  • 'Fred Zinnemann's Search: Reconstructing the Voices of Europe's Children', Film History, 23: 1 (2011): 75-92.
  • 'Hollywood as Historian, 1929-1945', in Cynthia Lucia, Roy Grundmann, and Arthur Simon (eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film, vol. 2 of 4, (Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).
  • 'James Jones, Columbia Pictures, and the Historical Confrontations of From Here to Eternity', in Peter Rollins and John E. O'Connor (eds)., Why We Fought: America's Wars in Film and History, 283-302 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008).
  • 'Classical Hollywood and the Filmic Writing of Interracial History, 1931-1939', in Mary Beltran and Camilla Fojas (eds.), Mixed Race Hollywood , 23-46 (New York: New York University Press, 2008).
  • 'Jim Crow, Jett Rink, and James Dean: Reconstructing Edna Ferber's Giant', American Studies, 48: 3 (fall 2007): 5-27.
  • 'American History and Classical Hollywood', Historically Speaking: The Bulletin of the Historical Society, IX: 1 (September/October 2007): 23-5.
  • 'New Frontiers in American Interracial History: Edna Ferber and the Indian Mixed-Blood', in The European Journal of Native American Studies, 20: 1 (2006): 39-45.
  • 'Hollywood "Takes One More Look": Early Histories of Hollywood and the Fallen Star Biography, 1932-1937', The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 26: 2 (June 2006): 179-201.
  • ‘Competing Frontiers: RKO and the Challenge of Cimarron’, in Peter Rollins and John E. O’Connor (eds.), Hollywood’s West (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005): 37-64.
  • ‘The Three Ages of Imperial Cinema from the Death of Gordon to The Return of the King’, in Janet Croft (ed.), Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (Altadena, CA: Mythopoeic Press, 2004): 3-23.
  • ‘Revisioning Modern American History in the Age of Scarface (1932)’, The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 24: 4 (2004): 535-563. Carfax-International Association of Media Historians' Award, best article, 2004.
  • Young Mr. Lincoln: Between Myth and History in 1939’, Rethinking History, 7: 2 (2003): 193-214.
  • ‘The New Western History in 1931’, Film and History, 33: 1 (2003): 9-17.