Defining Documentary

Graduate Courses

CINE 826 - Defining Documentary

COMM 826
401 |John Ellis |W 5:30-8:30pm |ANNS 224

This course will interrogate existing definitions of ‘documentary’ as a genre of film and television. The predominant debate about documentary begins with the mobilisation of Big Concepts (‘reality’, ‘truth’, ‘ethics’ etc). This course will instead apply the question that Goffman posed in Frame Analysis: “what is it that is going on here?” Assumptions about documentary will be tested by confronting them with specific examples from film and TV which will have been viewed and commented on by every student, every week. The resultant reactions will form the basis for each week’s discussion, followed by a lecture on the readings. The first four sessions re-examine historical definitions of documentary and the material bases of documentary filmmaking. Subsequent sessions will read Goffman’s Frame Analysis alongside specific discussions of the screened films. Definitions of documentary will developed within an enhanced understanding of the conditions of production and reception of specific documentaries. Production, following Goffman, will be seen as a set of specific social encounters. Reception will be understood through self and group examination as well as through an examination of the concept of ‘witness’.

last updated 06/17/2014 - 2:23pm

Cinema Studies Program
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