Survival of the fittest: home exercise, moving image technology, and audiovisual preservation
thesisposted on 2021-06-08, 14:06 authored by Olivia Babler
This thesis explores the production, use and preservation of instructional fitness media made in the U.S. between the 1910s and 1980s. While film historiography has expanded to include many non-theatrical, ‘orphan’ works since the mid-1990s, home exercise—an enormously popular genre of the moving image—has received scant attention from media scholars and preservationists. This is primarily a material history of a genre that has been disseminated on a variety of home-viewing formats since the 1920s, many of which have become obsolete and may soon become inaccessible. Primarily drawing upon contemporary advertisements, reviews and trade publications, as well as conversations with archivists, producers, distributors and collectors, this study seeks to expose the forgotten early iterations of the home exercise genre while also exploring the less-discussed material aspects of the more famous recent examples.