Showing posts from August, 2011

The Mid-Size Conference

I have attended two conferences this summer that I would classify as mid-sized conferences: Screen had about 100 scholars presenting, Visible Evidence between 2-3 times that many. Both were terrific events and academically nourishing - good papers and panels where conversations actually emerged from the debates the papers engaged with. And the schedule was not too crowded. From what I gather, other regular conferences have similar benefits: Flow, Visible Evidence, Media in Transition, and Console-ing Passions.
As much as I do actually enjoy and look forward to SCMS Conference, it suffers in comparison with the smaller conferences on many grounds. I don't know the solution or even if anything needs to change. I would probably be happier with a variety of conference sizes, types, and themes, if there were a couple more mid-sized conferences for film studies in the US.

Visible Evidence 18

Tomorrow I will be going to New York to attend the 18th Visible Evidence conference, devoted to the study of nonfiction film and media. I have promised to contribute the conference blog. I may also post here.
I look forward to seeing colleagues and (potentially) some readers there.

Vernacular and Formal Expression

This Virginia Heffernan post on overhauling eduction to meet the demands of the future has gotten a bit of attention. Tim Burke chimes in his support for the idea. So educators can argue that their immediate job is to ensure an even distribution of experience with new media practices and a richer exploration of interpretative and expressive work in those media.
Of course, to do so, educators themselves would have to have widely distributed skills and be practiced in those richer possibilities. This is not my sense of the current norms in higher education in the humanities and social sciences, nor do I necessarily see incoming faculty as being markedly closer to that goal, only that there are tendencies in that direction.I always value Burke's reflections on liberal arts eduction. Even if I tend to be more slanted toward traditional disciplinary education, I admire his sense of purpose and ability to articulate it.
I'm left scratching my head here, though. I can't help but fee…

The Foxes of Harrow

Foxes of Harrow (2oth-Fox, John Stahl) is a historical drama set in antebellum New Orleans. At initial blush it seems to fit the genre formula: dynastic melodrama set on a Southern plantation; an Irish immigrant (Rex Harrison) who comes to America and moves from gambler to businessman in attempt to overcome his illegitimate status; his wife who is too guarded sexually to be able to deal with her husband; and tragic events that threaten to bring down the slave-owning patriarch.
A couple of things are unusual about Foxes of Harrow, though. First, it lacks the visual style we associate with the antebellum or historical melodrama. The black-and-white cinematography looks downright low-key and realist in comparison.

It's probably more accurate to call Joseph LaShelle's cinematography romantic minimalism than realist. Romantic, because its set ups provide washes of etherial light; minimalist because like Shamroy's work (also at Fox) it tends to be sparse with the number of lighti…