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December 1993


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James Allan Schamus <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 19 Dec 1993 22:20:31 -0500
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Thanks to henry jenkins for sharing his experiences. If I were to teach
such texts in the classroom, my feeling is that i would probably follow
something of the same course of action. Still, some nagging questions: I
wonder if there isn't a "class" -- at least "culture class" -- issue at work
here, in that the careful precautions, mentorship, and "aestheticisation"
of the primary texts, as well as the chaperoning, etc. all work to
privilege the students in constructing a very specific context for the
consumption of the texts -- something I'm not at all against in theory
(nor practice), but...To give an example, one of the things I tried hard
to do in the B movie course I taught was to, over the course of the
semster, make the students comfortable with "fun" responses to the films,
such as The Tingler (where the class yelled so loudly we had people
running into the room to see what the problem was), so that in discussion
it would be difficult for anyone to "stand outside" what the films were
soliciting in terms of embodied response. This was, for me, a criticaly
important part of the *epistemological* questions I wanted the course to
pose -- i.e., what is the *object* (or objects) of study that could be
constituted within the classroom, and could we, through a certain kind of
collective action, change that object in significantly troubling ways?
Atempting the same thing with a pornographic text simply seems beyond the
pale to me, but to work so diligently to do the opposite, to inure
the students as a collectivity to the affectivity of the films, to
throw them back on institutionally sanctioned discursive responses
(while still respecting fully their opinions -- and I don't mean
this cynically or in any way negatively -- this seems to
me to beg many of the most interesting questions. But then, the most
interesting ones probably should be begged, at least temporarily, and
certainly in
those theaters of instruction where the professor's power is all the more
palpable simply because he or she seems to be encouraging transgression
(and grading students on the quality of such -- intellectual --
--James Schamus