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July 2009, Week 3


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Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
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Fri, 17 Jul 2009 16:40:39 -0500
text/plain (76 lines)
I just received news of the passing of Jack Ellis, a true gentleman and a

He taught at Northwestern U from 1956 to 1991, establishing the film-studies
program there. He was a central figure in the development of film as a
viable academic discipline and yet was one of the most modest and thoughtful
professors I've had the honor to study under.*

**Date: *July 17, 2009 10:45:33 AM PDT

*Subject: **Jack Ellis*


We received word this morning from Sue Ellis that Professor Emeritus Jack
Ellis passed away yesterday.

Biography (from Northwestern University Archives) :

Professor of film studies and filmmaker Jack C. Ellis was born in Joliet,
Illinois, on July 9, 1922. He did undergraduate work at Wabash College from
1940 to1943 and, after serving in the US Army from 1943 to 1946, attended
the University of Chicago, receiving a Master’s Degree in 1948. For his
Doctor of Education degree from Teacher’s College, Columbia University
(1955), Ellis studied the use of film in college and university education;
his dissertation was titled “Approaches to Film as an Art Form: A Handbook
for College Teachers.” The history and production of film, especially
documentaries, continued as research and teaching interests throughout his
When Ellis came to Northwestern University in 1956 as a lecturer, he
established a Film program--including both production and
history/criticism--as part of the Radio and Television Department in the
School of Speech (now Communication). At the time, only a few other
institutions in the US offered film programs. Ellis was appointed an
assistant professor in the Radio, Television, and Film Department later in
1956, an associate professor in 1961, and full professor in 1966. He served
as Chair of the department from 1980 to 1985, and was named professor
emeritus in 1991.

During his career at Northwestern, Ellis held visiting professorships at the
University of California-Los Angeles (1959-1960), New York University
(1965-1966), and the University of Texas at Austin (1972-1973). Among a
number of professional affiliations, Ellis served on the American Federation
of Film Societies, the Society for Cinema Studies, the Illinois Arts Council
(advisory film panel), and the American Council on Education. He was the
director of NEH Summer Seminars on Film History (1979, 1980), and the editor
of Cinema Journal (1976-1982). Ellis’s publications included numerous
articles, and five books on aspects of film history. An autobiography
remained unfinished.
In addition to teaching film history, Ellis was involved in film production
at Northwestern. He and his students produced a number of documentary films,
beginning with a 1962 study of a children’s theatre course. He also worked
to build a film library at Northwestern, and organized film/lecture series
open to the general public.

Jeremy Butler

Professor - TCF Dept. - U Alabama

Learn to speak like a film/TV professor! Listen to the ScreenLex