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Showing posts from August, 2006

New Affiliation

There's a reason for the lack of posting here lately. I've moved from Boston to Philadelphia to come aboard Temple's Film and Media Arts department as a Lecturer in film history and theory. It's been an exciting and busy couple of weeks. So, expect more pedagogical musing in the weeks to come.

The Intro Syllabus

Thanks to those who have provided feedback and suggestions on the Intro textbook. I've decided to stick with Bordwell and Thompson's Film Art this time around. Yes, I will be teaching intro this Fall, details on that to come soon. For now, I thought I'd share a draft of my syllabus. After formulating it, I've come to reflect that a) it's remarkably similar in structure to most intro syllabi, yet b) the selection of films seems distinctive, if not from my own idiosyncratic ideas then from the institutional stamp of places I've been and scholars I've learned from. At least, it seems to strattle canon and anti-canonical approaches to pedagogy in an identifiable way.

I'd love to hear any reader and peer feedback, whether readings you've found useful, or film suggestions you might have. It's still not set in stone, so I'm open to ideas. Blogger doesn't allow for below-the-fold posts, so here it is in all its lengthy glory.

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, socio…

Avant Garde: Academic Study and Film Culture

Girish is hosting a blog-a-thon on avant-garde cinema. (See his post for a full list of links.) I'm a day late, but I thought I'd take the occasion to reflect on avant-garde studies within the academy. I tend to find much theoretical and critical study of avant-garde work insufficiently critical - that is, scholars tend to take up the very position of avant-gardism of the work they study in a way that they would never do in approaching a commercial narrative film. I don't mean to paint with broad brushstroke or suggest that this all avant-garde study is currently about, but it does seem a real methodological pitfall for those, like me, who argue that film scholarship can and often should take a detached, analytical stance toward its object of study. (Incidentally, documentary studies has its own version of this pitfall.)

On the other hand, even the detached stance cannot adequately explain the avant-garde's textuality, history or social function without reconstituting t…