History and Film

This coming week we will consider film and history: historical film, how historians and filmmakers (and perhaps other categories – news media? YouTube users?) use film and the moving image to craft historical narratives and interpretations, documentaries, and films that made history (in the dual sense of the word).

The reading is Williams Ch 13, which for starters raises the question: what is a discussion of film doing in a chapter on “Speculation”? Is that the right place for it?

I would like to add another reading for Tuesday so we have more material for dicussion. You are no doubt familiar with the work of Ken Burns and have some sense of his influence on the field of historical documentaries. I assembled a PDF packet of excerpts from three scholarly articles about the documentarian Ken Burns: 1 interview with Burns himself published in the American Historical Review in 1995, and 2 articles critiquing his work and his claims to be truthfully representing the past.

Reading for Thursday 4/14:Making Sense of Films,” Tom Gunning