As I have mentioned, I am now back at the lovely (yet irritatingly cold!) Carleton College, and as classes began on Monday, I entered this week thinking I knew exactly what shape my academics would take for the term: Film History I, Cinema Studies Topics Seminar (aka Film Theory), Graphic Design, and Working with Gender, a history/women’s-and-gender-studies course on the history/gender politics of labor in the U.S. But on Wednesday, on my way to leading a discussion of Eisenstein’s Beyond the Shot in my theory seminar, I was reminded by some fellow CAMS majors that the Nonfiction I production course exists. My reaction: how on EARTH did I forget/overlook/muddle-headedly ignore what is probably the most appropriate class of all classes EVER for me, the aspiring theory-headed-feminist-experimentalist-documentarist??? The only issue was that Nonfiction shares the same class time as Working with Gender, and I was kind of loathe to take four CAMS classes in a term (also known as overloading here at Carleton, a prospect that was beginning to seem less appealing by the day). After some serious pondering/discussion/inspirational discovery that I might know what my comps will actually be, I decided to drop Working with Gender (and Graphic Design, for good measure) for Nonfiction. Phew. It was a crazy day. (This was Wednesday.)
And after yesterday, I am convinced it is the best decision I have made in years.
What I love about Carleton CAMS is the attempt to marry theory and practice, as someone who is themselves constantly torn between the fascination and appeal of both areas of the discipline. So even in a production class we have readings and screenings and incredibly engaging discussions, and in this class in particular, our new and wonderful visiting professor, Laska Jimsen, seems already to be facilitating such a bridging of production and contemplation in a way that is totally exciting to me. Our first assignment is a 60-second non-sync audio/visual portrait of ourselves, so in yesterday’s class, we touched on the good, the bad, and the ugly potential roles that social media plays in our lives. (Which makes me mildly self-conscious about blogging regarding the discussion, since we were working from an article that totally eschewed the theoretically life-sucking qualities of ‘teh internetz’…) Then, working from the first major reading, we traced the historical trajectory/roots of the connections between autobiography and documentary, from the avant-garde of Brakhage/Conner/Mekas/all the guys who were kicking around at my recent place of employment, Anthology Film Archives, to the mid-century reactionism against ethnographic and Otherizing documentary that maintained pretenses of objectivity and non-interventions, to the self-reflexivity of the European cinema of Godard and the rest of the French New Wave. And then we watched some Brakhage (The Stars Are Beautiful).
BEST. CLASS. EVER.
On top of all that, we got to watch Sherman’s March about an hour and a half later, in the brand new Weitz Cinema! I’ve been meaning to watch this Ross McElwee film for quite some time; you know you are in the right class when the first screening is something incredibly high on your Netflix queue.