Scholarship in Sound & Image

2015-02-05 02.45.18 pm

I have long been interested in “videographic criticism” — that is, scholarly (interpretive, argumentative, and sometimes more poetic) work done in the medium of sound and moving images. Such work is especially relevant for engagements with film and video, television, and video games — i.e. for the critical analysis of media that themselves operate with sound and moving images of various sorts. Until now, I have only dabbled in videographic criticism, but I regard it as an important means of gaining insight and materially grappling with moving-image media; the process of planning and executing a video essay can be literally eye-opening to students who are just coming to terms with concepts and practices of cinematographic framing and continuity editing, for example, but the experience is no less powerful for seasoned scholars who are used to engaging with moving images through the more conventional channel of written text.

Over the past few years, as a result, I have made a commitment to myself to work towards more fully integrating videographic modes and methods into my pedagogical and scholarly practice. I have encouraged students to produce video essays as seminar coursework (e.g. in my 21st-century film course) — and I have plans to expand my incorporation of such assignments in future courses. In the meantime, a great number of people have been busy developing the form, exploring best practices for conducting this type of work, and even setting up peer-reviewed journals for videographic criticism — if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out the awesome journal [in]TransitionIn other words, while this is still a relatively new field of scholarly publication (though it clearly draws on older forms of documentary and creative work), there is a growing community of people and a growing body of work and experimentation that can be drawn upon and learned from.

I am therefore very excited to be attending a workshop this summer, “Scholarship in Sound & Image” (June 14-27, 2015 at Middlebury College), where I look forward to meeting some of these people and learning from their experience. Co-directed by Christian Keathley and Jason Mittell, and with guest presentations by the incomparable Catherine Grant and Eric Faden, the workshop promises to be a once in a lifetime learning event.

In other words: Expect to see more moving-image experiments on this blog!

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Coming Soon: Post-Cinema, edited by Shane Denson and Julia Leyda

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UPDATE APRIL 11, 2016: THE BOOK IS OUT NOW! See here for more info.

Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film is the working title of a collection of essays that Julia Leyda and I have proposed to REFRAME Books, a new branch of Catherine Grant’s open-access publishing ventures (you may know Catherine Grant, of Film Studies at the University of Sussex, from her excellent blog Film Studies For Free, while REFRAME includes the innovative journal Sequence and a variety of other great publications and platforms).

Our proposal has been well received by REFRAME’s reviewers, so if all goes well (i.e. pending review of the completed chapters) the collection should be appearing sometime in the near future. We are particularly excited to be working with REFRAME on this project, as this means that the book will appear in a variety of open-access formats (PDF, epub, Mobi), free of charge and freely distributable! Ours will be among the first full-length edited collections to appear with REFRAME, whose publications are sure to make waves in scholarly publishing in the coming years. We are very proud to be in on the ground floor!

While there is still quite a bit of work ahead of us on this project, and though not all of the details have been finalized yet, we couldn’t wait to announce the collection; we are very excited about the group of contributors we have assembled (more info soon), and we are confident that the volume will make an important contribution to the still emerging discussion of post-cinema.

According to an anonymous reviewer for REFRAME:

“The proposed collection promises to be a landmark publication by bringing together some of the most important critical essays that have discussed recent developments in film and media cultures and a number of original essays that develop in innovative ways the perspectives and provocations of those earlier interventions.”

We will do our best to live up to these high expectations, and we will be sure to provide further details about the project in due time!

Required Reading: Shaviro on Melancholia

I’m not teaching any courses right now, but if I were then Steven Shaviro’s “MELANCHOLIA, or the Romantic Anti-Sublime” would definitely be required reading! This is an important essay, and the new open-access journal in which it appears, Sequence: Serial Studies in Media, Film, and Music, is sure to establish itself as an important site of media research. Founded and co-edited by Catherine Grant (of Film Studies for Free fame), the peer-reviewed journal responds to the medial specificities of its digital environment in an innovative — but nevertheless quite “natural” — way: by structuring itself in terms of seriality. From the “About” page:

SEQUENCE will use its position outside of established academic publishing frameworks to work adaptively and responsively, using a sequential edited-collection format – its publication schedule set by its authors and readers, and their research and concerns. In other words, it will make an open-access virtue of its own low-fi, D.I.Y., modular blog format. It can only do this meaningfully, of course, because of the generous labour and research expertise of its authors, and of the editorial and advisory boards of its publisherREFRAME.

Each new scholarly SEQUENCE will begin with the publication of one valuable contribution to research in the fields of media, film or music – on a particular theme named in the issue title. But the editors of each individual SEQUENCE won’t necessarily know what the next in their series will be, or when exactly it will come. Each SEQUENCE could, theoretically, turn out to be ‘infinite’, or only as long as the first, self-contained contribution – a hopefully interesting and worthy, if possibly melancholic, kind of monograph.

In any case, each contribution to a SEQUENCE, and each evolving SEQUENCE as a whole, will go on to be published in a variety of electronic viewing and reading formats, with the web version only the first in a series of digital iterations.

Instead of regularity, we aim above all for spreadability and engagement. Readers will find out about new SEQUENCES, and new contributions and updates to existing SEQUENCES through the paraphernalia and pullulations of contemporary online serial publication: primarily, the project’s blog, its RSS feeds, and its Twitter and Facebook pages, and, hopefully, sharings on from those.

In this spirit, check out Shaviro’s excellent article, share it, and spread the word about this important new venue for online, peer-reviewed, open-access scholarship!