Film Research Proposal and Paper

Your final paper should be approached like a small research project. Think about a specific area of cinema and technology study that you would like investigate: this could be a particular historical moment (e.g., the shift from silent to sound film in the 1920s, the spread of widescreen cinema in the 1950s, the adoption of digital color techniques in the late 1990s and early 2000s, or the introduction of Dolby sound). Alternatively, you may want to explore the uses of technology in a particular film genre or style (e.g., the specific uses of technology in science fiction, musicals, or in French New Wave); the development of sound and visual technologies or practices by an individual filmmaker (such Orson Welles, George Lucas or Peter Jackson); or a theoretical issue (the uses of camera, sound or color production techniques in relation to narrative, or the representation of technology in cinema). The important thing is to focus your topic as clearly as possible, formulate a question about it, and think about how you will approach it. Also, think of a few examples that might be used to support your ideas: the research paper is not primarily an exercise in textual analysis but, nevertheless, exploring the use of technology in one or two films, television programs, or games, may be an important way of illustrating your ideas or supporting your claims. Finally, find some initial sources that will help you develop your discussion of the chosen topic (this can begin with our course readings but you will need to go outside them as well, using both print and online resources). Length of the final paper: approximately 11 pages (25003000 words).

The Proposal: Your proposal should be brief: one page (200-300 words) should suffice. Be concise in introducing the general area of your investigation but be as specific as possible in outlining the question or issue you want to examine and how you will go about doing it. Mention any particular body of films or individual programs that may be pertinent to your topic or that you may want to examine in some detail (treat them as examples at this point, you dont need to describe or commit to them right away). Provide a short list of books, journal articles, or websites that may be relevant to your topic (two to four titles should be enough for the purposes of the proposal and to get you started on your project).

Some Discussion Topics and Readings from course:

Introduction to the course material. Cinema, Crisis and Technology: From
Celluloid to Digital; Sound and Color
Background Reading (optional): Elsaesser, Afterword Digital Cinema and the
Apparatus: Archaeologies, Epistemologies, Ontologies. Screening and
discussion: Hugo (Scorcese, excerpts)

Before Cinema: Visual and Aural Technologies in the 19th and early 20th century
Jonathan Crary: \”Techniques of the Observer\”
Richard Crangle: Next Slide Please: the Lantern Lecture n Britain, 18901910
Jonathan Sterne: excerpts from The Audible Past

Sound in the Silent Period
Rick Altman. \”From Peep Show to Projection\”
Kalinak. \”The Silent Film Score: A Structural Model\”
Tom Gunning. \”The Scene of Speaking: Two Decades of Discovering the Film
Lecturer\”

The Coming of Sound I: Hollywood
Steve Neale: Sound and the Film Industry
Mary Ann Doane. \”Ideology and the Practice of Sound Editing and Mixing\”
Steve J. Wurtzler: excerpts From Performing the Recorded to Dissimulating the
Machine