Encyclopedia Live History Talk Series

The inspiration for the Encyclopedia Live history talk series comes from the over 100 articles available through the Centre County Encyclopedia of History & Culture which provides an authoritative look at the county’s past. The encyclopedia presents Centre County’s history and culture, in all its variety, through topics and themes. This series will feature topics and authors featured in the online encyclopedia.

This program is part of the new Encyclopedia Live History Talk Series of the Centre County Encyclopedia of History & Culture, an online resource sponsored by the Centre County Historical Society. Virtual programs have a limit of 100 registrants, but will be recorded and made available on the CCHS YouTube Channel. Please contact Mary Sorensen at 814-234-4779 or msorensen@centrefurnace.org for additional information. The Series is coordinated by CCHS Board of Governors member Dr. Ford Risley. 

2022 Encyclopedia Live History Talk Series:

From Pastime to Premiere: The History of Movie Theaters in Centre County

Kevin Hagopian

Sunday, February 20, 2022

The history of movie theaters in Centre County is a miniature of the growth and plateauing of public moviegoing in the US from the nickelodeon era (c. 1905-1915) to the present. Centre County presents many kinds of movie markets in the same geographic area, from a college town, with its diverse tastes, to market communities like Phillipsburg and Milheim which have historically attracted rural audiences to the movies. The movies brought to Centre County a wider world of culture and drama than was otherwise available to rural communities. County cinemagoers responded with enthusiasm, encouraging the building of enough movie theater seating to accommodate the area’s population several times over in a single week by 1940. Drive-ins and an `art cinema’ theater followed changing demographic tastes after 1960. The building of multi-screen venues, and the restoration and repurposing of area movie theaters as community arts venues in the 21st century, has meant that the spaces associated with public movie viewing remain, to complement the phenomenal growth of private movie viewing since the 1980’s.

Hagopian has taught film studies at Penn State since 1998. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in cinema studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was Editor in Chief of the Film and Television Literature Index, the leading publication of its kind for libraries in the world. After teaching at the University of Memphis for several years, he came to Penn State in 1998, where he has been teaching cinema studies ever since. An award-winning teacher, Kevin has published articles on a variety of film history and theory topics, and on college teaching. Kevin is completing a manuscript on the Hollywood film industry during the years 1935-1945.

Read Kevin’s article on the Encyclopedia: https://centrehistory.org/article/movie-theaters/.

Past programs that have been held by Zoom may be found on the CCHS YouTube Channel.