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The Essay Film

Cultural Studies


GENG-7820 Topics in Visual Cultures: The Essay Film
Professor A. Burke

The essay film is a hybrid thing, drawing on the energies and conventions of a whole range of literary, theoretical, and cinematic forms. This course investigates the formation and development of the essay film and maps its connections to other film genres. It also takes stock of the essay film today and examines the wide range of contemporary productions that fall into this very elastic category. The power to create and circulate images, as well as the ability to critique and recontextualize already existing ones, stands at the heart of the essay film. The convergence of the personal and political that defines the genre resides in this practice of thinking with sound and image. In addition to critical and theoretical readings, the course will feature films by Chris Marker, Dziga Vertov, Agnès Varda, Chantal Akerman, Abbas Kiarostami, Hito Steyerl, and others.