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This introduction argues that the sensational mode is uniquely revealing of the transformation of quotidian experience and public life under capitalist modernity, particularly in Latin American contexts, where modernization has exacerbated profound social divides. Highlighting the role of spectacles of violence in forging public spheres in early twentieth-century Mexico and Brazil, the introduction traces intersections between three distinctly modern, and often interconnected, modes of cultural production: sensationalism, melodrama, and seriality. Observing that sensational cinema emerged in dialogue with imported cultural forms and reflected locally specific understandings of the ontology of the moving image, the introduction traces shifting relationships between cinema and print culture, from the highly intermedial visual and entertainment cultures of the first decade of the twentieth century, to the intertextual relationships between serial literature and serial films that emerged in the 1910s, to the development of specialized discourses on cinema in the illustrated press in the 1920s.

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