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August 2000, Week 3


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Kate Bowles <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 20 Aug 2000 10:17:38 +1000
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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In response to Thomas Morsch, I think I might advocate a different
sensibility at least.  I try to give clear information about the content of
upcoming films, and students very occasionally feel that they must make the
choice to miss that class, whether out of religious, ethical, political or
simply visceral squeamishness. What I've learned is that there are diverse
viewing positions from which even the most formulaic romance may be
shattering to someone -- a student dealing with experience of domestic
violence, for example, may find Sleeping With the Enemy quite unbearable.
So I've come to feel that it's congruent with my support of academic
freedom, to support students in making choices informed by their ethics and
experience, and not mine.

Obviously, you don't have to look very far to find equally useful
alternatives to formula films which could be too close to home for some
students, but for me this discussion has raised a more interesting
question.  Is there an underlying supposition here that there is another
category of "important" films which film scholars *ought* to teach and film
students *ought* to see, and that this overrides any possible personal
objection?  The analogies with literary students and Shakespeare, or
medical students and burns victims, seem to propose this.

In which case, if there's a canon of essential texts for film scholarship,
should it (does it?) include economically significant movies like Deep
Throat, or are there already tacit exclusions being made?

I chose recently not to include Happiness in a course about film and
cultural taboo, even though I'm confident of its historical-cultural
significance in this context.  The decision still worries me a little.  So
I'd be interested to know whether there are "important" or relevant films
which others choose not to teach.

Kate Bowles
Communication & Cultural Studies
University of Wollongong

Kate Bowles
Communication & Cultural Studies
University of Wollongong

>Actually, a student who complains about including films into a course
>that display graphic violence, nudity or that contain explicit language
>(the majority of movies beloning to one category or the other) seems to
>be the equivalent to a medical student who refuses to treat burnt
>victims, because it is "too gross". This would be ridiculous.
>This may sound a bit naive and it certainly shows that, up to now, I have
>been largely unconcerned with this issue. But I would like to hear other
>opinions advocating a greater sensibility concerning these issues.

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