For the Love of Cinema: Teaching Our Passion in and outside the Classroom

For the Love of Cinema: Teaching Our Passion in and outside the Classroom

For the Love of Cinema: Teaching Our Passion in and outside the Classroom

For the Love of Cinema: Teaching Our Passion in and outside the Classroom

Synopsis

What role does love--of cinema, of cinema studies, of teaching and learning--play in teaching film? For the Love of Cinema brings together a wide range of film scholars to explore the relationship between cinephilia and pedagogy. All of them ask whether cine-love can inform the serious study of cinema. Chapter by chapter, writers approach this question from various perspectives: some draw on aspects of students' love of cinema as a starting point for rethinking familiar films or generating new kinds of analyses about the medium itself; others reflect on how their own cinephilia informs the way they teach cinema; and still others offer new ways of writing (both verbally and audiovisually) with a love of cinema in the age of new media. Together, they form a collection that is as much a guide for teaching cinephilia as it is an energetic dialogue about the ways that cinephilia and pedagogy enliven and rejuvenate one another.

Excerpt

“What We Have Loved”

Er still to talk about love in relation to the work we do in and outside the classroom: teaching and thinking about the movies. On more than one occasion, we’ve had a well-meaning acquaintance exclaim, “You must love your job!” When the subject is film, it seems to many, the work itself must be effortless and uncomplicated and pleasurable. Sadly, this kind of view is not limited to people outside the academy. in Why Teach, for instance, Mark Edmundson argues for rethinking the purpose of higher education, which ought to focus not on impacting careers and salaries but on changing students’ minds and lives. But such “a real education” cannot include film, at least not popular film, which, for Edmundson, does not lend itself to thoughtful intellectual inquiry; if you are teaching mainstream cinema, “no matter what you propose by way of analysis, things tend to bolt downhill toward an uncritical discussion of students’ tastes, into what they like and don’t like.” Even if you hope to offer “a Frankfurt School-style analysis,” Edmundson suggests, “you can be pretty sure that by mid-class Adorno and Horkheimer will be consigned to the junk heap of history” What you will be left with, “under the guise of serious intellectual analysis,” is “what [students] most want—easy pleasure, more tv.” To be fair, Edmundson’s critique is leveled at what he calls cultural studies, not cinema studies per se. Yet the teaching of film in general is being attacked as well, for it allows “students [to] kick loose from the critical perspective and groove to the product.” It would be too easy to refute this old-fashioned notion of cinema as uncritical—and it would be entirely unnecessary, especially for readers of this volume. But we would like to take on a more pernicious argument implied here: that there is a fundamental distinction between “serious intellectual analysis” and “easy pleasure.” Is it possible to deconstruct this binary between evaluation and enjoyment? Can we rigorously critique that which we enjoy, even love? Given the long history of ciné-love in our field, what does it mean to teach what we love or love what we teach? These are some of the questions addressed by this . . .

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