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April 1991


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Roger Simon <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 1 Apr 91 09:39:00 EST
text/plain (92 lines)
I haven't been able to log on to the OISE Vax for a week. This
afternoon I went through my backlog. It's great to see this list
so lively. Just a few catch up replies:
On Sat. March 23 I asked if anyone had read David Scholle's
article " Resistance: Pinning Down a Wandering Concept in
Cultural Studies Discourse" in the Journal of Urban and Cultural
Studies Vol. 1 no. 1 Jeremy replied he had not seen this journal
and wondered where it came from. It is published by the
Department of English, University of Mass. - Boston, Harbor
Campus, Boston, Mass. 02125-3393. The article tries to develop a
critique of the way the term resistance has been used by a
variety of people using notions of discourse theory to critique
conventional sender-message-receiver models of communication re:
cultural commodities like film and tv.
Hans Borchers, if you are still there, I think Remote Control:
Television, Audiences and Cultural Power is a great book. A
number of people here at OISE have been reading and discussing
several of the articles. I'd recommend it for anyone interested
in -not only audience response to soap operas- but general
current issues in audience research.
As a couple of Canadians have indicated the status of our
copyright laws re: using films and tv programs is in a state of
repressive chaos. Much rumor, much fear. I know that some high
school principals have locked away the video tapes English
department media studies teachers had been using with their
classes until the law is clarified further. Our Tory government
[otherwise known as "Progressive-Conservatives"] decided to deal
with fair use in two parts. The first step was to cover print
material. The bill on this aspect has been passed and
implemented - despite a "freedom to read" educational lobby. The
law covering non-print media has been long promised but is still
to come. If I can get more time in the coming weeks, and if there
is still interest, I will try to provide more detailed info.
I like Fiona's `what do we get from the discourse of discourse
theory' question. For me this translates into how can discourse
theory [or any other theoretical framework] help in thinking
clearly about a problem. I want to come at this very indirectly
for awhile:
Speaking of problems that need some clarity, let me pose one that
one of our doctoral students [Judith Robertson -University of
Ottawa, Faculty of Education] and I are trying to think through.
The problem is set in the context of using popular film re:
teachers and teaching in the context of teacher education.
Picking up on Ian Ang's work on the way audiences use soap
operas, Judith and I have been wondering about the way teacher
films are taken up by beginning teachers. Ang's work emphasizes
that many people use soap operas and their characters to engage
in the work/play of phantasy. In other words, the issue is not
whether soap operas are taken as representations of "reality",
but rather that they offer a set of imaginative possibilities
which often, in their texture, tone, and emphasis, offer - in
their use- both a critique of current material and social
realities and a set of discursive resources for constructing new
[though imaginary and often unrealized] possibilities. Well, we
have been working through a project of integrating student
responses to films such as Stand and Deliver, The Prime of Miss
Jean Brodie, Sylvia, etc. into credit courses in teacher training
programs. Such responses indicate how such films do or do not
enter into the imaginative play of teachers-in-becoming and in
the formation of identities as teachers. Judith has collected and
developed an annotated bibliography of over 100 feature length
fictional narrative films in which a teacher or teachers are
central. She is gaining experience re: how different groups of
students respond to  the narrative and representational
structures in these films. But we find we need more clarity
regarding how to think about how and with what limits and effects
films provoke the processes of phantasy and imagination. Outside
of the now conventional psycho-analytic treatments of this issue
from the 70's and 80's has anyone see any good discussions of
this lately? I think that relating questions of discourse -
issues of meaning at the level of the semiotic - to such problems
requires re-configuring discussions of the regulation and
production of discursive resources which a viewer might use in
the process of meaning making to include questions of affect,
psychic investment and the operation of that which may - most of
the time- be unconscious.
This is getting a bit long...but one final note: Ben Alpers ...I
greatly appreciated your historical comments. I don't think
there's a need to apologize for historical discussions in
"screen-l". I'd welcome more comments that can help us
"historicize" our conversations.
Roger Simon
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
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