This was later expanded on in the introduction to an edited volume entitled Explorations in New Cinema History: Approaches and Case Studies. This marked the beginning of a debate on this matter. In particular, we wondered about the position of Dutch and Flemish research on the history of film within the field of New Cinema History.
Gradually, we also started to wonder about the current visibility of this research within the wider field of cultural and socio-historical research in the Netherlands. The question concerning the position and visibility of film studies is not new, and not limited to the context of the Low Countries; it has also been raised repeatedly in other countries in recent decades. In the TMG issue mentioned above, Maltby asks a similar question and advocates dovetailing film studies with approaches inspired by sociology, so that the object of enquiry is behaviour rather than artefacts, and the history of cinema also becomes relevant beyond the circles of film scholars.
Film Criticism 2009, Spring, 33, 3
He was expressing a trend — one with a longer history. The HoMER network is nomadic: it uses existing organisational structures such as NECS or ECREA or events organised by local research groups as a platform for its yearly gatherings, which are intended for the presentation of research and to facilitate partnerships and joint publications. In addition countless publications in journals and books in which some authors have explicitly or implicitly positioned themselves within New Cinema History, there are also several edited volumes that have been produced directly by the HoMER network.
What can we say now about the position of the research from the Low Countries in an international perspective and where can we situate the contributions in this issue? The HoMER website features a world map showing which projects the network members are working or have worked on. Figure 2.
Looking Past the Screen
The map is not exhaustive and cannot be used to draw definitive conclusions, but it gives an impression of what is happening around the world and what role the Low Countries play in that context. The first thing you see from the map is the European concentration of projects and, in particular, the contribution of the Flemish.
These approaches are also reflected in the contributions in this special issue. Film programming analysis has played role in many case studies and local cinema histories, but in the last fifteen years there has been a growing awareness that collecting this data systematically provides new opportunities to better understand the preferences of film audiences.
Setting up a database according to the same principles and searching for similarities in the metadata used were therefore the subject of many meetings from the outset of the HoMER network. The Cinema Context database created by Karel Dibbets was an important example in this process.
During the development of the data model for Cinema Context, detailed consultations were held with international partners such as Joseph Garncarz, who was in the process of developing his own German Early Cinema Database. Dibbets' ideal of transnational collaboration and the facilitation of comparative research has increasingly become a reality in recent years. The work of John Sedgwick also contributed to the standardisation and comparability of film programming research. This article is still a relatively rare example of an international comparative perspective, and the other articles in this special issue reflect the continuing dominance of local case studies within New Cinema History.
Curriculum Vitae | Dreams and Pomp
Patterns in film programming will only ever tell us part of the story. To gain an understanding of what motivates cinema-goers and of their experiences and backgrounds, various researchers have turned to oral history. A pioneer in this area is Annette Kuhn, whose study on British cinema audiences in the nineteen-thirties revealed an insight that went on to form one of the cornerstones of New Cinema History: in the memories of cinema-goers individual films were completely secondary to the social and physical context of the routine of cinema-going. For this, we need to learn more about the circumstances within which film consumption takes place.
Oral history has gained a permanent place in the arsenal of new cinema historians, which is demonstrated by the fact that — at the very least — oral history plays a supporting role in the research of most of the authors in this special issue. Oral history can help validate information from other types of sources, but it can also provide new knowledge that would otherwise be lost, such as the wide array of physical and sensory experiences that those interviewed associated with memories of cinema-going.
According to Treveri Gennari, this can shed new light on how we construct and reconstruct our own histories. Figure 3. Their research focuses on the cinema-going recollections of members of the moderate Reformed Church in the period — Ethnography and Exhibition.
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