Short Pieces

This page of my website is devoted to the publication of presentations and various writings that might not otherwise find their way into the public sphere. 

Editor Max Tholl at The European, which bills itself as “the debate magazine,” asked me to write something about the recent spat of political/historical movies coming out of Hollywood. I don’t go to the local cineplex very often these days, so it gave me a reason to go see Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. There is a German translation somewhere, but here is the link to the English language version. I like the way they give it a few different titles so one can choose (none of them were my original title but otherwise the piece is pretty much intact).  It was a interesting exercise and a way to plug a few of my favorite documentaries!

I have been involved with Action Speaks Radio now for several years.  It’s based in Providence, Rhode Island, and I am on its advisory board (aka Board of Scholars).  I’ve been on two of its radio programs–one on Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates (1920) and another on Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936). Let me confess that Modern Times had not been one of my favorite Chaplin films.  Nevertheless, when I started looking at it closely and investigating its historical context, I changed my opinion and became an enthusiastic fan.  As part of my responsibilities,  I wrote an essay on the film for the Action Speaks website.  It can be found here.

At the annual 2012 conference of the Society for Cinema Studies, I was on a panel about about Audio-Visual scholarship, organized by Brigitta Wagner (Indiana University).  My presentation is entitled:  “Writing, Filmmaking, Scholarship: Working with Errol Morris.” I wrote it in the wake of a confrontation within Yale’s Film Studies Program about the validity of graduate students taking my year-long course Documentary Film Workshop. While I obviously believe in documentary as a mode of filmmaking, I also think it can be a valid form of audio-visual scholarship that can complement the written mode in valuable ways.   As I try to suggest, filmmaking has always been a critical component of my scholarly pursuits.

Yale’s Film Studies Program has just gone through an external review––the first such review in the program’s 25+ year history.  In preparation for this occasion, we authored a self-study.  John MacKay did most of the heavy lifting, and my principal contribution was to write a history of media production at Yale.  I don’t see this history as particularly controversial or confidential, so I am publishing it here as “On the Creative Side: A History of Film and Media Production Courses at Yale.”

For the festival/conference Remnants of Utopia: European Film, ca. 1975, which was held at Yale University on December 2-3, 2011, I had the pleasant task of introducing two films by Agnes Varda: Daguerréotypes (1975), and Résponses de femmes (1975)

I assembled a small panel of Yale faculty and graduate students to discuss “Public Humanities, Documentary Filmmaking and the Academe” on November 28th, 2011.  It was followed by the screening of a new cut of my documentary  Errol Morris: A Lightning Sketch, primarily for my students in Documentary Film Workshop.  Here are my remarks and a list of the panelists.

One comment on “Short Pieces

  1. In a Google search, I encountered a piece by you titled “Trauma, Truth, Environmental Documentary” which appears to be a chapter in a larger work. Would you please tell me the citation information for that larger work? This is for an article I have in progress on “An Inconvenient Truth.” Thanks.

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