Academic journal article Cultural Studies Review

From Ethnocentrism to Transculturalism: A Film Studies Pedagogical Journey

Academic journal article Cultural Studies Review

From Ethnocentrism to Transculturalism: A Film Studies Pedagogical Journey

Article excerpt

The teaching of transnational film studies has the potential to provide for tertiary students an extraordinarily rich range of differing, sometimes conflicting, but always engaging transcultural insights and understandings. This article will chart a particular cultural studies case study involving the delivery, both in the past and looking towards the future, of certain pedagogical practices in relation to an undergraduate film studies unit.1 In late 2009, as part of a Queensland University of Technology Learning and Teaching research initiative titled Internationalising the Curriculum, the authors were funded by the Creative Industries Faculty to undertake a review of an advanced film studies unit, International Cinema, in order to assess the ongoing effectiveness of the particular unit, as well as to map the ways in which International Cinema may be renamed and reframed as an innovative pedagogical model for 'internationalising the curriculum'.

As part of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Film and TV Production) course, International Cinema was designed and approved in 2001, the year the Creative Industries Faculty was formed.2 From its inception, International Cinema incorporated an emphasis on how possible links could be made between critical theory and creative practice, between cultural studies and film production, through engaging with relevant community cultural industries and through an understanding of relevant creative industries throughout the world. Over a thirteenweek semester, students are encouraged to examine critically such national or transnational cinema cultures as French, Spanish, pan-European, Japanese, Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, Iranian, Mexican and Indian. At various times, Cuban and South African cinema have also been studied, and South Korean cinema is being considered for a possible future inclusion.3 It could be argued that the various iterations of this unit over the past nine years have already demonstrated aspects of an evolving pedagogical 'innovation' on several fronts. Instances include the careful choice of films screened for in-depth study, such as Amores Perros, La Haine and The Circle;4 the application of a philosophy involving transnational film theory, combined with an emphasis on social justice issues to stimulate transcultural debate and help bring about changes in attitudes and values; the industry and community immersion pathway aspect of one very popular assessment item involving participation in an international film festival; and the creative industries context in which the unit is conducted, with the emphasis on developing a synchronicity between cultural studies theory and creative practice. Along with refining further the social justice component, we have been interrogating film studies theory as well as pedagogical advances in the field, in order to build a timely, more robust 'internationalised curriculum'.

In 2009, we attempted to devise an appropriate methodology for researching the further 'internationalising' of International Cinema. Ultimately, we chose Robert Stake's 'intrinsic' case study approach, when the case itself is of interest and the findings can be seen to add up to a 'valued particular', providing insights with multiple perspectives that tolerate ambiguity and complexity.5 In addition, our work follows that of Darla K. Deardoff who argues that, even though researching this particular educational field is quite difficult and underdeveloped at this stage, the most effective means of investigating significant shifts in intercultural competence include those that are both qualitative and quantitative in nature. Examples include evaluations, interviews, observations, case studies, analysis of narrative diaries, focus groups, dialogues, workshops, and student papers and presentations.6 Within the 'intrinsic' case study approach, we employed several qualitative research strategies such as conducting focus groups and a close analysis of student narrative diaries and online evaluations, as well as a study of comparable film units worldwide. …

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