Film in the Digital Age: Historical and Philosophical Implications

CLIT 596B SQ 2011 SLN 11559 5 credits TTH 3:00-05:30 MGH 278

Instructor: Prof. Yomi Braester

How has the history of film been rewritten in the past twenty years, especially through the cinematic medium itself? To what extent are these new histories the result of new technology — shooting in Digital Video, editing on computers, distribution on VHS/VCD/DVD and P2P, and critical reception through online reviews and the blogosphere? To what extent is it because of political and ideological changes — the advent of globalization, the turn to post-socialism, and the rise of neoliberalism? To inquire into these questions, we will examine closely a number of films directly interested in the history of film, such as Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma, Dan Geva’s Description of a Memory, Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye Dragon Inn and the omnibus film To Each His Cinema. The seminar is designed to coach graduate students through the various stages of a research project during the term.

First presentation 5%
Second presentation 10%
Third presentation 15%
Final paper 70%


Week 1. Film’s New Historical Consciousness (i)
Screening: Lumiere and Company
- Jenaro Talens and Santos Zunzunegui, “Toward a ‘True’ History of Cinema: Film History as Narration” (in boundary 2, vol. 24, no. 1, 1997)
- Andrew, “Time Zones and Jetlag: The Flows and Phases of World Cinema” (in World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives*)
- OR: Deshpande, “Anthology Film” (in Wide Screen vol. 2, no. 2, 2010)

Week 2.Film’s New Historical Consciousness (ii)
Screenings: Lumiere and Company
                  Description of a Memory
- Allan, “Early popular visual culture: Deserted Histories: The Lumiere Brothers, the Pyramids and Early Film Form” (in Early Popular Visual Culture*)Screening: Description of a Memory

Week 3. Cinephilia and Memory (i)
- Elsaesser, “The New Film History as Media Archaeology” (in Cinémas*)
- Sperb and Balcerzak, “Presence of Pleasure”; Sperb, “Sensing an Intellectual NEMESIS” (in Cinephilia in the Age of Digital Reproduction*)
- Trbic, “Out of Oblivion: Chris Marker and Cinematic Memories of Israel in Dan Geva's Description of a Memory(in Bright Lights Film Journal)
- OR: Lupton, “Memories of the Future” (in Chris Marker: Memories of the Future*)
(no meeting on Thursday)

Week 4. student projects
Tentative film selection; first ideas

Week 5. The Future of Film History (i)
Screening: Histoire(s) du Cinéma (I)
- Ishaghpour, Cinema: The Archaeology of Film and the Memory of A Century (selections*)
- Rosenbaum, “Trailer for Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinemas” (in Goodbye, Cinema; Hello, Cinephilia*)

Week 6. The Future of Film History (ii)
Screening: Histoire(s) du Cinéma (II)
- Mulvey, “Passing Time (in Screen vol. 45, no. 2, 2004)
- Witt, “The Godard Dossier: Introduction” (in Screen vol. 40, no. 3, 1999)
- Williams, “The Signs amongst Us” (in Screen vol. 40, no. 3, 1999)

Week 7: student projects
Conference-format presentations: basic arguments

Week 8. Cinephilia and Memory (ii)
Screening: Goodbye Dragon Inn
- Tweedie, “Morning in the Metropolis” (in Cinema Taiwan*)
- Tsai, “On the Uses and Misuses of Cinema” (in Senses of Cinema)

Week 9.Cinephilia and New Media
Screening: Greenaway, The Tulse Luper Suitcases
- Jared Gardner, “Greenaway’s suitcase cinema and new media archaeology” (in Studies in European Cinema vol. 5, no. 2, 2008)
- Rodowick, “Presenting the Figural”; “A Genealogy of Time”; “An Uncertain Utopia — Digital Culture” (in Reading the Figural*)
(no meeting on Thursday)

Week 10: student projects
conference-format presentations and Q&A; discussion of paper drafts

*     distributed directly
OR optional reading