Disciplining the Devil: a rhetorical history of Tod Browning’s The Devil Doll (1936)

Bernadette Marie Calafell, Kendall R. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Critical scholars of media often limit their attention to the final version of a media product without much focus on the production process. In this essay, we encourage more attention to the processes that occur during production with particular emphasis on the development and revision of the script in an approach we call a rhetorical history of the text. Focusing on Tod Browning’s 1936 The Devil Doll, we observe the ways that the studio process systematically disciplined Browning’s initial conception of monstrosity. We note in particular the ways that Browning’s transgressive depiction of race and gender were recast into a more traditional form for the film’s final version.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-34
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Production history
  • disability studies
  • gender
  • monstrosity
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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