ANTHRCUL 356 - Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology
Section: 001 Histories and Theories of Ethnographic Film
Term: WN 2009
Subject: Anthropology, Cultural (ANTHRCUL)
Department: LSA Anthropology
Requirements & Distribution:
Advisory Prerequisites:
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

What is ethnographic film? Who defines it, who funds it, who makes it, who uses it, who performs in it, who gains from it? This course will explore what has been called ethnographic, cross-cultural and transcultural cinema from several points of view. We will look at ethnographic film in terms of its geo-political, anthropological and cinematic origins, and then delve into its various forms and contemporary manifestations. We will examine some of the major films of the canon of ethnographic cinema, and look at the developments of several it its most renowned practitioners (Flaherty, Mead, Rouch, Marshall, Gardner, Asch, MacDougall). We will explore the shifting forms and representational strategies of ethnographic film and how these are linked to technological and ideological transformations. We will see how scholars inside and outside of anthropology have defined, criticized or challenged the project of ethnographic film, and how recent film and video makers, including those who traditionally have been the subject of the ethnographic gaze, have created new ways of visualizing experience for themselves and for others. Although many of these latter practitioners would certainly resist being categorized within the realm of ethnographic cinema, one can argue that work by artists such as Trinh, Kunuk, Onwurah, Ny, or Moffat has much to offer in terms of creating new ways of seeing, experiencing, analyzing and living in our culturally complex world. Some of the issues we will focus on are: the ideological bases of the ethnographic project; film’s strategies of creating and communicating meaning and claiming authority; the respective roles of the visual and the verbal in producing or resisting ‘knowledge’; ethnographic film’s relationship to history; the place of pleasure (epistemological and aesthetic) in ethnographic film; ethical and political aspects of the filmmaker’s relationship to her subject and to the viewer; realism and/vs. performance. We will explore several types and styles of filmmaking, including what has been labeled salvage ethnography, observational film, self-reflexive film, autoethnography, indigenous media, and performative and hybrid forms of transcultural filmmaking. In this class, you will be active participants in the theorizing and critical thinking process, and I will encourage you to come up with your own definitions and analyses which you'll then question, expand, and modify in light of the readings and discussion with your peers. Close viewing and guided discussion of both classic and contemporary films will be the essential element of the class process. The theoretical readings will be used as a tool in the project of developing new ways of seeing and thinking about ethnographic film and will also provide insight into how ethnographic film is represented in academic discourse. By the end of the class, you should have a sense of the multi-faceted nature of what has been labeled ethnographic cinema and how and why alternative forms have developed. You should also be able to eloquently comment on and analyze the aims and strategies of any film that you see.

ANTHRCUL 356 - Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
W 1:00PM - 4:00PM
M 3:00PM - 4:00PM
002 (LEC)
MW 8:30AM - 10:00AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Coursepack Location:
Coursepack will be available on first day of class
ISBN: 9780691012346
Transcultural cinema, Author: MacDougall, David., Publisher: Princeton University Press 1998
ISBN: 9780226730981
Picturing culture : explorations of film & anthropology, Author: Ruby, Jay., Publisher: University of Chicago Press 2000
ISBN: 0822318407
The third eye : race, cinema, and ethnographic spectacle, Author: Fatimah Tobing Rony, Publisher: Duke Univ. Press 3.print. 1996
Other Textbook Editions OK.
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