The Intro Textbook

[Cross-posted at Dr. Mabuse's Kaleido-scope]

It's the time of year again when many of us are preparing syllabi for introductory courses, so it seems like a good time to ask two related questions.

First, which film analysis/media studies/film history textbooks do people prefer to use? I've only used David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson's Film Art, which I'm partly pleased with (great illustrations, detailed discussion of form), partly annoyed with (poor model of textual analysis). I've not used their Film History survey but others I know have had good experiences with it. I've heard positive things about Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White's The Film Experience, but have yet to take a closer look. Any suggestions or experiences people would like to share?

Second, what do the intro books say about our discipline? I have enough post-semiotic rigor envy to wish we had better stepping stones in teaching disciplinary knowledge, along the lines of economics, sociology or what have you. There is a collective and dispersed understanding of what film and humanities media scholarship means, broadly, yet so much of it is encapsulated in individual essays, many of which are written at a theoretical and advanced level. Some textbooks have tried to step into the breach by tackling film theoretical subjects, yet there's still much work to be done to bridge the formal art-appreciation discourse of Film Art with the kinds of textual study many of us do.

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