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The Film as a Text and Political Space Per-Anders Forstorp Docent Skolan för Datavetenskap och kommunikation KTH, [email protected] Research areas: Knowledge, communication, media – a cultural studies perspective Current projects:

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per anders forstorp
Per-Anders Forstorp

Docent

Skolan för Datavetenskap och kommunikation

KTH, [email protected]

Research areas:

Knowledge, communication, media –

a cultural studies perspective

Current projects:

Eduscapes: Towards a Critical Anthropology of Knowledge Society

The Topographies of Knowledge: Cross-Boundary Learning in Higher Education

outline
Outline
  • The course. Some practical issues.
  • Film, media and popular culture in the humanities and social & political science. Article by John O´Connor.
  • The artwork essay by Walter Benjamin.
  • Before we leave…

Language issues…

1 war media and culture 7 5 credits
1. War, Media, and Culture, 7,5 credits

Instructors:

Jonathan M. Feldman, docent, PhD

Ekonomisk historia, Stockholms universitet

[email protected]

08-162843

Per-Anders Forstorp, docent, FD

Skolan för Datavetenskap och kommunikation, KTH

[email protected]

0768-727297

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Web

Webpage:

http://www.ekohist.su.se/?page=scheman/somkurs08#war

On the web page you will find the syllabus for the course

Mail to the course:

[email protected]

duration of the course
Duration of the course

11 weeks

Teaching and screening mainly in August, from 4-22

Readings and preparations mainly in June and July

outline of the course
Outline of the course

Lectures (6)

The Film as a text and Political Space

Media Power

Crisis Theory and War

The Contested Media Terrain Around War

Terrorism and the Media

Media, Disarmament and Social Change

Films (3)

U-137 by Maj Wechselmann

Film on War and the Media

Film on the War on Terrorism

Discussion seminars (3)

Monday 4/8

Thursday 14/8

Monday 18/8

assignments
Assignments

Individual writing

summarize and analyze the writings in the second class

due: 11/8

Writing in small group

summarize and analyze the writings in the fifth class

due:21/8

Examination (hemtentamen) due 22/8

  • two or three film reviews
  • questions about each film
  • questions about readings
  • questions about the book, Incoherent Empire by Michael Mann
examination and grading
Examination and grading

Lectures, films, study circles, discussion seminars, report writing and final test

Attendance is obligatory to all these events (see the syllabus for a specification)

Grades: pass with distinction (väl godkänd)

pass (godkänd)

fail (underkänd)

literature films
Literature/Films

Films will be screened according to schedule

Book Mann, Michael (2003) Incoherent Empire. London & New York: Verso

Additional readings, mostly available on the web, are listed in the syllabus. A reference copy of all readings will be available in the library.

how to prepare for lectures film screenings and discussions
How to prepare for lectures, film screenings and discussions

For the lectures and screenings: Key questions related to the readings and the screenings, see syllabus

For the discussion seminars:

Creation of study circles

Preparation in study circles: discussing the questions, preparing short presentations

Presenting in seminars

Note that the seminars are only 1 hour!

Be brief!

The central creative activity will take place in study circles.

creation of study circles
Creation of study circles

Sign the attendance list with your name and give an e-mailaddress where you can be reached

Before we leave today:

Study circle leaders will be identified who will be in charge of informing their members already today. Set up a first meeting

the course contents for war media and culture
The course – contents for War, media and culture

Lectures, readings, screenings, study circles

Course objectives:

  • How media is organized as a form of power
  • Relationship of war and culture with a specific focus on the media
  • Uses of media by foreign policy organisations – how the media influences these organisations
  • Media and peace organisations – how they influence each other

Interdisciplinary: International relations (IR), Economic history, Peace- and conflict research, Political science, Cultural studies, Media- and communication studies

2 film media and popular culture in the humanities and social political science
2. Film, media and popular culture in the humanities and social & political science

”History in Images/Images in History. Reflection on the Importance of Film and Television Study for an Understanding of the Past”

By John E. O´Connor in The American Historical Review 1988, vol 93, nr. 5, 1200-1209 See also Image as Artifact. The Historical Analysis of Film and Television and Teaching History with Film and Television

Addresses the question:

The last two decades or so…

”The visual turn”

Iconography

The uses of various forms of representations (not only texts) for the study of society and culture

o connors argument
O´Connors argument

The study of film, TV and popular culture is relevant to professional historians

Manuscripts as documents; the traditional ignorance of visuality as lightwight entertainment

Absence of methology for anlyzing visual representations as historical artifacts

Photography (150 yrs), films (100 yrs) and TV (50 yrs)

  • The contributions of visual evidence to an understanding of the past
  • Historian filmmakers can offer important assistance; people are likely to learn history from film and television
implications for curriculum design and students
Implications for curriculum design and students

Critical readings of textbooks and articles should be extended also

to

Teaching students to be informed, critical viewers of historical film and television

O´Connors example is history – this can easily be extended to disciplines social science, political science and cultural studies and to almost any kind of phenomenon

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Film and TV major factors in politics and culture since the 1930s

”Media events” (Daniel Dayan & Elihu Katz) – important events take place in front of the camera/screen (John F Kennedy; Anwar Sadat; Ronald Reagan; The Hindenburg;The moon-landing, sports, etc.)

Professional or amateur footage

the hindenburg zeppelin 1937
The Hindenburg zeppelin, 1937

What would be required in a full historical analysis?

German politics of transportation

The log

Design of airship

Economics of fuel

Statistics of the disaster

Experience and fram of mind of the radio commentator

Images of the exploding airship

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Media events as pseudo events?

What can we learn from the orchestration of visual representations? Media as part of political strategy

How politicians learn to cope with the media and to perform in front of the camera. Styling and media training is commonplace. Already in the 1930s UK, Neville Chamberlain

”Peace for our time” – reassuring a British public fearful of war

Pre-television – vaudeville circuits and movie musicals in the 1930s

What does it mean to be a member of a radio or film audience in the 1930s?

The role of advertising in the growth of conusmer society

disciplines and theoretical approaches to the study of film and television
Disciplines and theoretical approaches to the study of film and television

Disciplines:

Film and cinema studies

Literary studies

Communications theory

Media studies

Cultural studies

Theoretical approaches:

Structuralism

Semiotcs

Feminism

Marxism

&

Post-structuralism

Post-colonial studies

Queer studies

historians and methodology
Historians and methodology

What elements of visual analysis will be needed?

The uses of traditional historical methods in the analysis of ”moving images”?

  • General analysis
  • Specific analysis
1 general analysis
1. General analysis

Content, context and historical influence

Content also includes: camera angle, lighting, composition, editing, how elements of visual representation add patterns of interpretation

Visual and aural content

Analytic breakdown into scenes, sequences or shots

Interaction between images and soundtrack

Symbolic images and meaning making

Example?

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The film as an artifact:

Production background (behind-the-scenes)

Collaborative processes

Ideological purposes

The meaning of the film for the historical audience:

Shaping popular perception

An agent of history

Study of audiences and spectators: reception studies

  • Based on the assumption that we read images in different ways
  • The historical context of media consumption – how they make meaning from what they read and see
2 specific analysis
2. Specific analysis

The critical analysis/assessment of historical evidence (Sw. ”källkritik”)

Feature films and documentaries are both ”carefully structured creations that present a particular point of view”

With what purpose do we study the films?

Not discrete historical data but as indications of social and cultural values

Shaping social values or just reflecting social values?

Construction or representation?

four forms of historical inquiry of film tv and popular culture
Four forms of historical inquiry of film, TV and popular culture
  • How a film etc. represents or interpret history.
  • To find confirmation of social and cultural values at the time of production and reception.
  • To acquire factual data otherwise unavailable.
  • To document the history of film, TV and popular culture

Towards a more general ”visual literacy”

implications of the visual turn
Implications of the visual turn

Increasing visual learning – visual literacy

Challenge students to think analytically about films etc.

  • Historical accuracy in film and writing
  • What interpretations are presented in films?
  • Past and present?
  • What alternatives?
  • History and fiction?
  • Etc.

Relying on historians/filmmakers

3 the artwork essay by walter benjamin
3. The artwork essay by Walter Benjamin

”The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction”

1935-39 (1936)

A ”cause celèbre”, a cult classic

Art, politics and technology

Complex, eclectic, unclassifiable

walter benjamin
Walter Benjamin

1892-1940

Berlin, Paris

A free floating intellectual: collector of books, writer

Suicide at the border to Spain

Co-founder of Critical theory – a school of Marxism and psychoanalysis at the University of Frankfurt – also Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (both later in Hollywood)

Critical theory and the culture industry

The new age of mass production will destroy the original work of art

Mass production is mass deception

Suspicions against the advanced technical society and its vision of progress and liberation

1930s
1930s

A time of mass movements (fascism, socialism)

Rapid technological change

Industrial production and the assembly lines (Fordist production)

The emergence of the consumer society

the artwork essay
The Artwork essay

Mechanical reproduction and its impact on on the artistic process, its social and political implications

The ”new age of mechanical reproduction” implies changes in how industrialized societies can perceive, experience and reproduce the world around them

The new ”media technology” challenge received aesthetic and cultural wisdoms and hav a revolutionary potential (cf. Brecht in theater, Eisenstein in film and film theory) – more egalitarian and empowering forms of expression

The essay contains analysis, diagnosis and prognosis: ”new media” has transformed the nature of art

fifteen theses
Fifteen theses

History: Art has always been reproducible, new technologies brings a new public dimension to art in photography and film (I)

Aura, perception, tradition: The ”unique” object becomes one of many and can be placed in new situations; the ”aura” (the sacred originality) withers away but is replaced by an ability to detach (II-IV)

”…the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a single existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the thing reproduced”

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Art and ritual (cult value) but new technology emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual – the break in ritual and the advent of politics (IV)

From ”cult value” (ritualistic) to ”exhibition value” (public showings): a new relationship between art and its public and a qualitiative transformation of the nature of art; how art can be re-empowered under the pressure of unequal social relations of capitalist accumulation (V-VI)

Camera as performer and mediator: hand-eye coordination and cognitive and emotional processes are affected by new technology; acting on stage vs. acting in front of camera (asynchronous, disembodied, reconstituted by technical intervention) (VII-X)

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Empowerment or alientation: new conditions of capitalist exploitation – the cult of the movie star; aura is replaced by commodity; the need for other changes (ownership, control (XI-XII)

Consciuous enjoyment and unconscious optics: criticism and enjoyment, the camera and unconscious optics (psychoanalysis) (XIII)

Perception and action – on and off-screen: not deciding between good or bad but art should be evaluated by its new mode of participation (impact and exhibition value) (XIV-XV)

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Epilogue: the grand themes of the prologue
  • techniques of mechanical reproduction are appropriated by the commercial film industry and the art establishment
  • because of capitalism , commercialisation and proletarianisation of modern man
  • the Fascist war machine´s use of mass mobilisation (propaganda and high-tech weapons)

The sad irony: changes in human sense perception have been coming to serve the needs of war and the needs of capitalism

4 before we leave
4. Before we leave

The leaders of the study circles are the following persons

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