Event Title

What We Can Learn from a History of Film Studies

Presenter Information

Hugo Ljungbäck

Mentor 1

Tami Williams

Location

Union 250

Start Date

27-4-2018 12:40 PM

Description

While the earliest films were made and distributed in the 1890s, Film Studies did not emerge as a proper academic discipline until the late 1960s. Though there had already been film schools that taught students how to make films (Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, 1919; USC School of Cinematic Arts, 1929), the study of films as an academic discipline or from a humanities and social sciences perspective was established much later. While film history has been written and revised many times over, little attention has been paid to the historical development of Film Studies programs. This study develops a microhistory of one of the earliest Film Studies programs in the country, its aims and methods, and places it in the context of this emerging discipline. In particular, this study examines department and university records, course books and syllabi, screening schedules, and CVs, to outline the initial concerns of the field at its inception: what classes were offered; what topics were covered; what filmmakers and films were screened and discussed; what theorists and texts were read; what ‘movements’ were grouped in the creation of a ‘film history’; and what disciplines Film Studies professors emerged from. The study traces the evolution of these concerns across the fifty-year-old discipline’s history, and compares the initial curricula (with a focus on film history, theory, and conceptual studies) to contemporary Film Studies concerns (such as interdisciplinary approaches, queer theory, and new media). Through this comparative approach, we can critically examine how Film Studies itself has shaped the histories and theories offered through current curricula, and how the discipline has either validated or dismissed the works of filmmakers, theorists, and historians.

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Apr 27th, 12:40 PM

What We Can Learn from a History of Film Studies

Union 250

While the earliest films were made and distributed in the 1890s, Film Studies did not emerge as a proper academic discipline until the late 1960s. Though there had already been film schools that taught students how to make films (Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, 1919; USC School of Cinematic Arts, 1929), the study of films as an academic discipline or from a humanities and social sciences perspective was established much later. While film history has been written and revised many times over, little attention has been paid to the historical development of Film Studies programs. This study develops a microhistory of one of the earliest Film Studies programs in the country, its aims and methods, and places it in the context of this emerging discipline. In particular, this study examines department and university records, course books and syllabi, screening schedules, and CVs, to outline the initial concerns of the field at its inception: what classes were offered; what topics were covered; what filmmakers and films were screened and discussed; what theorists and texts were read; what ‘movements’ were grouped in the creation of a ‘film history’; and what disciplines Film Studies professors emerged from. The study traces the evolution of these concerns across the fifty-year-old discipline’s history, and compares the initial curricula (with a focus on film history, theory, and conceptual studies) to contemporary Film Studies concerns (such as interdisciplinary approaches, queer theory, and new media). Through this comparative approach, we can critically examine how Film Studies itself has shaped the histories and theories offered through current curricula, and how the discipline has either validated or dismissed the works of filmmakers, theorists, and historians.