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A history of authorship in ethnographic film

Beyond Observation offers a historical analysis of ethnographic film from the birth of cinema in 1895 until 2015. It covers a large number of films made in a broad range of styles, in many different parts of the world, from the Arctic to Africa, from urban China to rural Vermont. It is the first extensive historical account of its kind and will be accessible to students and lecturers in visual anthropology as well as to those previously unfamiliar with ethnographic film.

Among the early genres that Paul Henley discusses are French reportage films, the Soviet kulturfilm, the US travelogue, the classic documentaries of Robert Flaherty and Basil Wright, as well as the more academic films of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Among the leading film-makers of the post-war period, he discusses Jean Rouch, John Marshall and Robert Gardner, as well as the emergence of Observational Cinema in the 1970s. He also considers ‘indigenous media’ projects of the 1980s, and the ethnographic films that flourished on British television until the 1990s.

In the final part, he examines the recent films of David and Judith MacDougall, the Harvard Sensory Media Lab, and a range of films authored in a participatory manner, as possible models for the future.

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authorship in making these records was seen as diminishing their value. Therefore, as I describe in Chapters 1 , 3 and 4 , throughout this period academic ethnographic film-makers adopted a range of strategies aimed at eliminating authorship, or when this was not possible, at least minimising it or making it invisible. But around the middle of the 1970s, there was something of a change of heart. Authorship in ethnographic film-making came to be recognised as inevitable, but nevertheless as something that should be exercised with restraint. As I

in Beyond observation

possess them they were written down much later. It follows that their treatment of the past can only be evaluated once we have placed them in their own present, broaching questions of authorship, language of composition, approach, sources and motives. The potential worth of such an exercise can swiftly be appreciated if we remind ourselves that, if we exclude formal documents such as the charters of the lords of the Isles,1 then the indigenous contemporary written sources for the history of the Scottish Gàidhealtachd in medieval and later medieval times are sparse

in The spoken word
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Authorship, praxis, observation, ethnography

the course on the history of ethnographic film that I taught at the University of Manchester for many years, and it retains a tone of address aimed, if not at students exactly, at least at those who are relatively new both to non-fiction film-making and to ethnography. Although it is a substantial book, I make no claim that it is comprehensive: it is a history rather than the history of ethnographic film authorship. Indeed, it is only a very partial history in that it is primarily concerned with English-language films, supplemented by a few forays elsewhere

in Beyond observation
Wharton,Woolf and the nature of Modernism

century. Elaine Showalter, in ‘The Death of the Lady (Novelist)’ (1985), proclaims: ‘The House of Mirth is a pivotal text in the historical transition from one house of American women’s fiction to another, from the homosocial women’s culture and literature of the nineteenth century to the heterosexual fiction of Modernism’.4 Amy Kaplan acknowledges Wharton’s ‘un-easy dialogue with twentieth-century Modernism’ in her essay ‘Edith Wharton’s Profession of Authorship’ (1986).5 Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in Sexchanges (1989), classify Wharton as an ‘antiutopian skeptic

in Special relationships
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Omnibus literature and popular culture in nineteenth-century Paris

of key features of this literature that I now turn. Focusing on a number of works of panoramic genres, such as tableaux , physiologies , literary city guides and volumes such as Paris, ou le livre des cent-et-un , Les Français peints par eux-même and Le Diable à Paris , Cohen reveals how they rely on ‘micronarratives with no continuity from plot to plot’, usually presented from the viewpoint of a single narrator. 32 These brief snapshots of everyday happenings assemble a variety of modern urban experiences, subjects and characters. Multiple authorship is

in Engine of modernity
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In Works and Lives , his well-known study of the anthropologist as the author of texts, Clifford Geertz draws upon a concept of authorship that was originally formulated by Roland Barthes. This is based upon a distinction between those who not merely write, but who in writing establish a distinctive model for doing so, and those who come later and write within the model established by the former. Barthes reserved the term ‘author’ to the originators of models of writing, distinguishing them from the mere ‘writers’ who

in Beyond observation
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Conclusion Recent scholarship has begun to rehabilitate Minerva Press publications such as Roche's, arguing for a new academic approach that moves beyond traditional denunciations of these fictions as unoriginal and imitative. In her research, Elizabeth A. Neiman traces the manner in which Minerva authors actively responded in their texts to the accusations of derivativeness so often levelled at them by critics and, in so doing, ‘developed their own model of collective authorship’. Only by reading their novels together, Neiman suggests, will we

in The gothic novel in Ireland, c. 1760–1829
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Film festivals and the revival of Classic Hollywood

Thames events very often fetishised industrial and technological innovations, or ‘firsts’. On the other hand, they promoted fairly traditional conceptions of authorship. Use of the first of these two narratives is fairly widespread. At the simplest possible level, this means that the London festival has on occasion worked to underscore the most conservative storylines regarding the ‘great moments’ of

in Memory and popular film
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are concerned with parallelisms: two writers working on similar ideas, divided by a nation and an ocean. A key question that runs through the collection is what a focus on transatlantic relations can bring to our understanding of literary production and ideas of authorship and of national characteristics. Many of the contributors to the volume have opted to investigate these issues by examining specific relationships between two writers, one American, one British. The result of this is to produce a model of literary influence that operates at a close and personal

in Special relationships