Guidelines: Overview Essays

Helpful Links

Published Examples: “Silent Era Fan Magazines and British Cinema Culture: Mediating Women’s Cinemagoing and Storytelling

Submission Model: “Newspaperwomen & the Movies

Download the Submissions Checklist.

Essay Specifications

Types: Overview essays generally fall into two categories:

Tone: In your writing, please try to avoid the authoritative tone of traditional historical writing. The editors encourage writers to think creatively about the challenges of silent-era motion picture research and to question previously published historical accounts. Make concrete references to archival sources as much as possible, highlighting not erasing the conditions of research. One way to do this is to answer these questions directly or indirectly in the essay:

Format: Overview essays generally range from 1,000-4,000 words (not including endnotes). Submissions should be double-spaced, paginated, use 12-point font, and should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document.

Citations: For overview essays, please use Chicago style endnotes rather than in-text parenthetical citations (a separate bibliography is not required). Examples: “Shaping the Craft of Screenwriting: Women Screen Writers in Silent Era Hollywood” and “Newspaperwomen and the Movies in the USA, 1914-1925.”

Filmographies: Overview essays generally do not have filmographies, but if necessary, follow the profile guidelines for how to list and organize extant and non-extant titles.

Images: We encourage the inclusion of iconographic and documentary materials such as portraits, publicity stills, frame enlargements, and reproductions of texts such as fan magazine articles, short [auto]biographies, screenwriting manuals, correspondence, studio payrolls, contracts, death certificates, and scenarios.

When you submit your essay, please send along each image as a separate high-resolution jpeg file (300-600 dpi). For example (placed in text): “Fig. 1. One-sheet for The Little American (1917). Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.” See published essays for more examples.

Any permissions and/or associated fees for the reproduction of copyrighted materials in the essay are the sole responsibility of the author. Authors requesting the reuse of copyrighted materials may wish to use the Columbia Libraries’ Media Permissions Form.

Some suggestions for places with images under free license or in the public domain: Wikimedia Commons, Media History Digital Library, and the Internet Archive.

Miscellanea: Italicize all book and film titles, as well as trade press and newspaper names; use quotations for article titles, plays, doctoral theses, and songs; follow American English usage (e.g., color, center, recognize), and translate all quotes in another language to English (names of books and other sources in bibliography or film titles in the filmography may stay untranslated); set quotations within double inverted commas, quotations within quotations in single inverted commas; and quotations more than six lines long should start on the next line and should be indented.

Questions/issues with any of this? Send an email to wfpp@columbia.edu.