Wednesday, August 27, 2008

beyond words (the book)

i give you a little progress report on the book, for which i have this here fall sabbatical. i'd have gone for a full year's sabbatical, but my institution traditionally grants a full sabbatical at only 80% of the sabbaticaleer's* annual salary, and i could not afford a cut. so, at 100% salary, i get one semester. wish me luck. i will, of course, also apply for some Spring reassigned time in order to extend the project. however, i feel pretty confident about what i'm doing - my plan - and i'm incredibly motivated just now.

so then, working title:

Beyond Words:
Film-Composition's 'Invisible Galleries'**

(note: the remove to dispense image is keeping my affective intensity for film-composition alive as i scan this history, remove to dispense being a film i very much luuuhhhhved making).

i've been patching away at this for a couple of years, sort of ethnographically working out my theses as a filmmaker and writing/reflecting as i go. today, i reviewed earlier versions of my introduction as well as drafts of the proposal i hope to complete soon. both the intros and the proposals seem fairly useful; i won't be deleting much, more like refining. generally, i'm tracing a history of discourses on film in Composition. i am creating a dialogue between these historical discourses and more contemporary discourses and practices.

central to the dialogue are a few key concepts:

1.) most of our historical engagment w/ film has emerged from our hermeneutic traditions (analysis trumps production; here, i have to note that i just came across a 1970 annual "roundup"-type College English piece ("Counciletter: Charting Our Course") within which, in the notes section, we find this:

Canadian Council of Teachers of English
The third annual conference of CCTE will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, August 19 to 22, 1970 at the Fort Garry Hotel. Along with Canadian scholars and educators, speakers will include former NCTE Executive Secretary, Dr. James Squire. Topics of discussion: film-making and the classroom, children's literature, sensitivity training and the teaching of English, teacher training in film education, drama in the classroom, and mixing media in the classroom. (emphasis mine!!)

but we were still debating taste, how to teach morals, values, taste (did i mention taste?), narrative, and other analytical practices. go figure.

2.) our discourses on film register powerful affective engagements with/distancing from film. that is to say, few are "neutral" in their linguistic attempts to register readings of, pedagogies involving, . . . really, any and everything to do with film. this notion supports work i want to do with contemporary theories of affect. i am especially eager to explore "the primacy of affect in image reception" (Massumi), theories on affect and/vs. emotion, etc.

3.) they seem to connect us to existing academic discourses (i.e., taste, morals, narrative, gender). i see very little in the earlier discourses on film that is ideationally speculative or rhetorically generative (beyond said ties -- so, yes, speculation on how film V teaches narrative strategy X, but not so much on how we might make film Y say Z).

currently, i've done most of my research on early discourses, beginning in the late 1930's and up until 1970. i'll update as i go (and as i can imagine taking breaks to do so or if some Genius New Idea presents itself. wait! they are all Genius ideas. right. remember that).

* we sing and dance and drink mead
** a term i've borrowed from André Bazin

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