Charlie Chaplin is known as one of cinema’s most important and influential actors, rising to fame in the silent film era of the early and mid-1900s. He was also a complex, multi-talented, individual who excelled behind-the-scenes as a writer, director, composer, producer and, finally, studio head. Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon Through Critical Lenses, a new book co-edited by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa English Professor James E. Caron, features essays that help to analyze Chaplin’s films and shed light on their cultural contexts.
“Charlie Chaplin created one of the best-known comic figures ever, the iconic Little Tramp, and 100 years after he made his first films for Keystone Studios, his work continues to delight audiences and intrigue scholars,” said Caron. “Much of what has been written about Chaplin is biographical in nature, so the significance of the essays in Refocusing Chaplin is their departure from that approach, instead employing various critical perspectives to understand the depth of Chaplin’s creative genius.”
Refocusing Chaplin was released by Scarecrow Press. Along with Caron, it was co-edited by English Professors Lawrence Howe of Roosevelt University in Illinois and Benjamin Click of St. Mary’s College in Maryland.
Films discussed in the essays include The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936) and The Great Dictator (1940).
According to a December 8, 2013 review by James L. Neibaur for examiner.com, Refocusing Chaplin is recommended “for libraries and research centers, especially at the university level, for its intelligent, thorough examination of perhaps the most important figure in cinema’s history.”
More on Caron
At UH Mānoa, Caron’s areas of interest include 19th-century American literature, Mark Twain, comic art and literature and popular culture.
He is the winner of a 2012 College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature Excellence in Teaching Award.