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The Wharton Brothers and The Magic of Early Cinema

November 18, 2021, 7:00 pm -

Historic Geneva's final program of the 2021 Fall Lecture Series on innovators and innovation will be a virtual presentation of “The Wharton Brothers and The Magic of Early Cinema,” on Thursday, November 18 at 7 p.m.  The lecture will be given by Barbara Tepa Lupack, with an introduction by Diane Riesman of the Wharton Studio Museum in Ithaca.

View across water of several large buildings, a tower and a sign that says Wharton, Inc.

The Wharton Studio

Brothers Ted and Leo Wharton, considered “masters of the serial,” were among cinema’s most prolific and pioneering silent filmmakers. Their profitable and influential productions included The Exploits of Elaine and The Mysteries of Myra, which starred such popular performers as Pearl White, Irene Castle, Francis X. Bushman, and Lionel Barrymore. Working from the independent film studio that they established in Renwick Park in Ithaca, New York, the Whartons expanded the possibilities of the serial motion picture and defined many of its conventions. Weaving contemporary events and scientific and technological innovations into their productions, they introduced sensational techniques and character types that are still being employed by producers and directors more than a century later. For a few years in the 1910s, they succeeded in turning their adopted town of Ithaca into Hollywood on Cayuga.

Barbara Tepa Lupack, former professor of English at St. John’s University and Wayne State College and Academic Dean at SUNY/Empire State, has written extensively on American literature, film, and culture. Author of more than twenty-five books—including Silent Serial Sensations: The Wharton Brothers and The Magic of Early Cinema—she served as New York State Public Scholar from 2015 until 2018. Former Fulbright Professor of American Literature in Poland and in France, she has held a number of recent fellowships around the country.

Diana Riesman is Executive Director and Co-Founder of Wharton Studio Museum, which is committed to preserving and celebrating Ithaca's role in early American movie making through annual screenings with live music, exhibits, student film festivals, and presentations. Wharton Studio Museum is the founding member of the Finger Lakes Film Trail, a collaboration launched in 2018 between the George Eastman Museum, the Case Research Lab/Cayuga Museum, and WSM.

This lecture will be presented online only through Zoom. Advance registration is required for participation. To register, click here. The necessary login information will be sent to registrants via email 24 hours prior to the program. For any problems with registration or to register by phone, call the Historic Geneva office at 315-789-5151. Registrations must be complete before 12:00 noon, November 18, the day of the program.

This program is supported in part by the Samuel B. Williams fund for programs in the Humanities and is free and open to the public.

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