References to visual technology began appearing in American fiction in the 1890s, one example of which is the presence of a device called the ‘visual telegraph’ in John Jacob Astor's novel A Journey in Other Worlds. The period from the mid-1890s to 1920 marks a transition between such early references to a situation in which film became fully recognized as a cultural medium. This chapter discusses the features of this transition. It examines early treatments of films in the writings of Edith Wharton, Thomas Dixon, and their contemporaries, and considers how cinema gradually assumed its central cultural status.
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