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In Rio de Janeiro in the latter half of the 1910s, a craze for imported serial films fostered new practices of film consumption, novel conceptions of cinema’s defining characteristics, and fresh ambitions for local film production. The popularity of serial films and their tie-in novelizations gave rise to paraliterary texts that reworked the conventions of imported cinema and to local productions that staged crime and adventure narratives in Rio’s iconic spaces. The serial craze reconfigured local understandings of cinema’s specificity, giving rise to the notion of the truc, a French loanword that refers to daring physical feats, cinematic special effects, and the coups-de-thêatre characteristic of serial literature. In the cross-medial form of the cinematic serial novel, a national tradition of serial literature intersected with the exhibition of imported crime and adventure serials, fostering cinematic and literary production in the interstices of an increasingly regularized and Americanized mode of cultural consumption.

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