Film and Media Theory

The film and media theory reading group will conduct close readings of early critical works in film and media studies to better understand their theoretical concepts which are often used and cited without further contemplation on their genealogies. Through investigating the traditionally defined “Western” canon of media theory, the group seeks to open the theoretical nebula stemming from the foundational texts and initiate discussions of more diverse materials that seeks to dismantle the regional boundaries of thoughts. Therefore, the group aims to synergies two seemingly contradictory goals: enhancing the understanding of the “canonical” texts credited for laying the cornerstone of film and media theory, and encouraging reflections and examinations of the overlooked theoretical as well as cinematic texts to call forth more diverse and refreshing perspectives of thinking about film and media.

The group will be joined by various faculty members in the current Film Studies committee, as well as more scholars from East Asian Studies, German, and Comparative Literature departments. However, students will remain the central force in driving the discussion. One discussion leader will be assigned for each session, and will be responsible of providing a list of questions to spark the discussion based on the materials and questions submitted by all participants prior to each session. A three-hour regular session will be held monthly along with separate screenings of the assigned films with two hour-long discussion to prepare for the forthcoming regular session. In addition, a special session featuring a guest speaker will be organized in the spring.

The regular meetings for the 2018-19 academic year will take Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema I and II and Walter Benjamin’s Origin of the German Trauerspiel as main texts, focusing on the concepts of truth and allegory. In addition to the main texts assigned for every session, the participants will read the writings/films directly referred to by Deleuze and Benjamin, their other books, or secondary works sharing theoretical affinities with the main texts. Based on close readings of the main texts, the participants will revisit the key concepts and theoretical references in additional readings to discuss how they are recast conceptually.

Schedule of Regular Sessions:

Spring 2019

  • Feb. 19,  5pm @ Jones 203
  • March 12,  12:00 pm Lunch Meeting with Professor Rey Chow, 12:00 pm @Jones 202
  •  April 9,   5pm @ Jones 203
  •  May 7,  5 pm, Jones 203

Fall 2018

  • September 20, 6:30pm @ Jones 203
  • October 18, 6:30pm @ Jones 203
  • November 29, 9:00am @ Jones 202 (Guest lecturer: Laura Marks, Simon Fraser University)
  • December 13, 6:30pm @ Jones 203

Chan Yong Bu
Junnan Heather Chen