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June 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tom Byers <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 16 Jun 1994 20:40:15 EDT
note of 06/16/94 19:43
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Department of English, University of Louisville
Phone: (502)852-6770 or (502)852-6801. Fax: (502)852-4182.
I think the discussion has pointed out what rare opportunities are missed if
one doesn't teach BoaN. One gets a triple hit in teaching it: one can teach
what there is to teach about form in it. One can teach a lot about the history
of film history itself, on two different points: a) how did Griffith get
constructed(& construct himself) as "genius" in such a way as (evidently
misleadingly) to take credit for a whole intertextual development? What does
this tell us about Hollywood, about the "great man" theory of history, about
self-promotion, etc? b) What does it tell us about the history of the
aesthetic tradition that this film could be hailed as the first great US film
masterpiece (over and over) w/ no address to its context? Finally, it's a
wonderful opportunity to teach students about racism (we must remember that
this film was lauded by one of the most intellectual of US presidents--Woodrow
Wilson--in part as I recall for its historical accuracy). It also opens up the
fact that the history of Hollywood film is thoroughly imbricated w/ the
history of racism in America. One might say that, yes, there's just too much
to teach here. But surely one wouldn't choose not to teach all of this because
it's distasteful? It's exactly what students ought to know. I will just add
that, given the film's importance to past versions of film history, it's
something that students really probably ought to see, even if one does get
tired of it. Otherwise they might never know--as I didn't until I decided to
teach it--what the film is actually like.
bitnet tbbyer01@ulkyvm; internet [log in to unmask]
Thomas B. Byers
Department of English/University of Louisville
Louisville KY 40292