Professor of English and Visual Culture
Catherine Jurca has published on Classical Hollywood film, exhibition history, and the twentieth-century American novel. She studies the relationship between the business history of the major film companies, the movies they made, the theaters that screened them, and the audiences that consumed them. Her book Hollywood 1938: Motion Pictures' Greatest Year, analyzes an unprecedented, industry-wide public relations campaign through which filmmakers and exhibitors tried to convince a deeply disenchanted public that movies were central to their lives and communities. She has also published several articles on a remarkable trove of box-office records from the Stanley-Warner theater chain that offered hard data about audience choice and how film distribution and exhibition responded to and shaped that choice. Her research in literature focuses on the American novel in its broader cultural contexts. Jurca's first book, White Diaspora: The Suburb and the Twentieth-Century American Novel, argues that the suburban novel, with its focus on spiritual impoverishment and self-pity, played a central role in creating an enduring portrait of the white middle class as the victim of its own success.
Jurca's teaching includes a freshman Introduction to Film course, advanced courses on the films and history of Classical Hollywood and the New Hollywood and the twentieth-century American novel. In 2021, she offers a new course in heritage conservation, which introduces students to theories about and the practice of preserving tangible and intangible heritage, from the Caltech campus and downtown LA's historic theater district to UNESCO sites.
- Hollywood 1938: Motion Pictures' Greatest Year (University of California Press, 2012).
- White Diaspora: The Suburb and the Twentieth-Century American Novel (Princeton University Press, 2001).
Articles in Cinema Journal, Film History, Representations, The Moving Image, American Literary History, and MLQ.