Showing posts from September, 2012

Archival Film Periodicals Online

Not to be encroaching on Film Studies for Free's territory, but I just discovered that old issues of certain Hollywood trade publications are available at The Internet Archive. The discovery made me wonder what other primary sources I might be overlooking. Essentially there seem to be two major free archives of materials: the Media History Digital Library and what seems to be mirrored copies at the Internet Archive.

Media History Digital Library
The Media History Digital Library is a non-profit looking for support for their scanning efforts - a worthy cause in my book! Their website has good search and browsing tools, so I won't link to individual journal or volume pages.

Extensive Runs
Business Screen (1938-1973)
The Film Daily (1918-1936)
International Photographer (1929-1941)
Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (1930-1949)
Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (1950-1954)
The Educational Screen (1922-1962)
Motion Picture [Maga…

CFP: Film Criticism in the Digital Age

CALL FOR PAPERS (Edited Anthology)
Film Criticism in the Digital Age: Media, Purposes and the Status of the Critic

Editors: Mattias Frey and Cecilia Sayad

The aims and status of arts and culture criticism, in general, and film criticism, in particular, are currently up for revision and under attack, according to a whole host of indicators. Numerous articles and academic monographs bemoan the crisis of criticism or mourn the death of the critic. Regular symposia and conferences dwell on the many, sometimes prominent film journalists made redundant at newspapers, magazines and other ‘old media’ in past years; Sean P. Means lists fifty-five American movie critics who lost their jobs between 2006 and 2009. It is clear that the reasons for the current situation include the worldwide recession, the recent drop in print advertising revenues and, more fundamentally, the declining circulations attributable to reluctant consumers of print media. These developments have brought forth ontological—…

Blogging is dead (Long live blogging)

I have an essay in the newish volume 2 of Cinephilia in the Age of Digital Reproduction. I'd like to thank Scott Balcerzak and Jason Sperb for including me in their project, for their work in putting the volume together, and for their vision in bringing together film studies and film criticism at a moment in which the internet is changing the relationship between the two.

My essay, “Academic Blogging and Disciplinary Practice: Implications for Film and Media Studies,” puts forth my best articulation for why I blog and why I think more scholars should blog, too. I based my polemic in large part on what academic blogging has achieved in other disciplines, and I foresaw that film studies could adopt many of those practices. However, I have to admit that the essay now reads like a swan song for a dying practice. Academic blogging in film studies is not dead, mind you, especially since there are still some terrific active blogs from film and media scholars, but qualitatively and quanti…

Category D now on Twitter

I have decided to open a categoryD account on Twitter. I'll still keep the same focus as this blog, but with more of an emphasis on quick observations, comments on recent scholarship in the field, and news items. Actually, I'm not a heavy Twitter user before now, so I'll be figuring out the medium as I go along.

CFP: Media in Transition 8

MIT Comparative Media Studies and MIT Communications Forum present

Media in Transition 8:
Public Media, Private Media

Conference dates: May 3-5 (Fri.-Sun.), 2013
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

Submissions accepted on a rolling basis until Friday, March 1, 2013 (evaluations begin in November). 

The distinction between public and private – where the line is drawn and how it is sometimes inverted, the ways that it is embraced or contested – says much about a culture. Media have been used to enable, define and police the shifting line between the two, so it is not surprising that the history of media change to some extent maps the history of these domains. Media in Transition 8 takes up the question of the shifting nature of the public and private at a moment of unparalleled connectivity, enabling new notions of the socially mediated public and unequalled levels of data extraction thanks to the quiet demands of our Kindles, iPhones, television…

Non-Anglophone scholarship

Michael Newman has written a terrific reflection on intermediality and transmediality and what they say about competing (parallel?) traditions of media studies. But just as interesting are his opening reflections:
[I]n film and television studies, the world of the American academic includes few scholars outside of North America and the UK. We read or at least know about all kinds of Continental theory (claim your ignorance of Gramsci, Habermas, or Foucault at your own risk) but are unlikely to know who’s who among contemporary Italian, German, or French media scholars, never mind those in Asia or Latin America. (There are some exceptions – some Danish and Dutch scholars in film, television, and video game studies come to mind.)  What if there are important ideas out there that we’re missing? It's something I've thought about and frankly always feel guilty about. I guess I'd like to think of strategies, individual or collective, to help get around this barrier.  I know for…

Sentimental Drama

The Unfinished Dance (MGM, 1947)
Just a note that I have a new article out in Quarterly Review of Film and Video (29.5 | online) titled, "The Sentimental Drama: Nostalgia, Historical Trauma, and Spectatorship in 1940s Hollywood." It's the first published essay to have emerged specifically from my 1947 viewing. The journal does not provide abstracts, so here is one:
Examining the 1940s dramas often overlooked by film canons, this essay traces their nostalgic invocation of America's turn-of-the-century and their deflection away from the historical trauma of World War II. Just as these film's melodramatic narratives focused on childhood and coming-of-age, their visuals placed the viewer in the vicarious position of historical maturation, as well. Many thanks to Bob Rehak for comments on an earlier draft.

The Film Theory Syllabus

To be a little more reflective about my own disciplinary practice, one thing that resonated with Kieran Healy's post is his reckoning with the fact that the field of theory and its place within the larger discipline has changed: "I could have pretended that it is still 1978, or squeezed in ten pages of everything that calls itself 'theory,' or just assigned only the good stuff from the past decade. Instead, I have kept it awkward." This is precisely the dilemma I've had teaching my graduate film theory class. I was trained basically on a triumvirate of 70s film theory, cultural studies, and Frankfurt school, with important strains of classical film theory, poststructuralist literary and cultural theory, etc. I still think these are important ideas to think through and teach, both on their own merits and also because they still unselfconsciously inform contemporary scholarship.

And yet contemporary film studies is not the world of 1970s film theory, and intell…

Theory as Subfield

Some interesting thoughts from Kieran Healy and Fabio Rojas on the fate of theory in sociology and the social sciences. From Healy:
Social theory within sociology is in a strange position. The nickel version is: there are no longer any theorists in sociology. There are theories (or things people call theories); there are theory courses and there are people who teach theory; there are theory articles and theory journals; inside papers there are mandatory theory sections; inside the American Sociological Association there is a Theory Section, too; there are career returns to being thought of as a clever sort of person who can do good theory; you cannot get published in a top-flight journal without convincing the reviewers that you have made a theoretical contribution; and there are people who were once hired as theorists and still think of themselves as such. In some related fields on the humanities side there is also capital-`t’ Theory, with its own practitioners. But since the late 19…

Film Studies and Film Criticism

I have been thinking, from various angles, about the calls for academic film studies to be in much closer dialogue with film criticism and film culture. I'm sure I'll have more to say as I think through this issue, but for now it's occurred to me that there's an academic discipline with precisely this intimate connection between scholarship, non-academic criticism, and art: art history. I think it's both an aspirational and cautionary example.

In Defense of Abstracting the Work/Text

This book sounds interesting and timely, but it was this excerpt that got me thinking about a larger methodological issue:
I think the new thing criticism ought to learn to do now is to grapple with the total aesthetic environment that has taken hold of ordinary life in our times, which criticism has not done all that well with—has, really, often been blind and deaf to—so far. From waking, when you put on one song then another to start the day in the right mood—while also listening to NPR (which is interviewing some writer or documentary filmmaker) and idly looking at the television or online weather—you can be environed by representations until you lie down again to sleep. Along the way you’ll take in several fictions: Law and Order at the gym, a romantic comedy on DVD in the evening, and pages of Proust before bed. It’s a matter for interpretation whether the “real” things you see (the news, reality television) also present themselves as fictions or art.   Criticism still deals prima…

CFP: Global Queer Cinema


Global Queer Cinema is a collaborative research project engaged in investigating queer film cultures from a global perspective and analysing world cinema from a queer point of view. In addition to scholarly inquiry into the spaces and forms of queer world cinema, its activities include programming innovative queer cinema, holding workshops, and bringing scholars together with film festival programmers, filmmakers and activists from around the world for public discussions of queer visual culture. The project is led by Rosalind Galt (University of Sussex) and Karl Schoonover (University of Warwick) and it is funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Network Grant. We are partnered with the British Film Institute and CineCity – the Brighton Film Festival.

The GQC website focuses on new writing on global forms of queer cinema and will form an open access archive for project-generated material, and for queer film and moving image studies resources. W…