A Little Secret About Me and Laura Mulvey

Teaching this past semester has been a bit different than it has been recently because I’ve been teaching two non-intro classes: New Media and Media Criticism. Although New Media is technically called “Introduction to New Media,” I’ve always run it like an undergraduate seminar with a lot close readings. The same goes for Media Criticism, where the students and I criticize criticisms of media.

One of the results of doing so many close readings this semester—especially ones that I have not read since being an undergraduate, if at all—is that I’ve become self-reflexive about some academic practices and rituals.

For example:

  • Why does seemingly every essay start with a premise that the author immediately challenges? I prefer the illustrative case study.
  • Why must we literally turn a page before we get to the author’s central method for challenging that premise? My advisor indoctrinated me that a reader should know your topic and approach before turning a page.
  • Why does seemingly every argument take a twist or turn about 60-70% through the text? What’s wrong with sticking what you outlined in the methodology?

One of the stranger practices in academia, especially among film scholars, is to say…

I’m not sure I’ve seen that film all the way through.

Allow me to decode that. That’s academese for…

I haven’t bothered to watch that film, and I’m too ashamed to admit it. Also, I can’t have a conversation with you about it because I must have missed the part of the film you’re describing.

Why not just admit that you haven’t seen it?

It’s a clever trick, and I’m guilty of having used that once or twice. In fact, I kind of did that when, back in November, I announced that filmmaker and scholar Laura Mulvey was coming to Pratt. I said that I had wished I had scheduled her film, Riddles of the Sphinx, for my experimental film class, but didn’t because it was “too long” for our class. Truth be told, I didn’t schedule it because I never bothered to watch it “the whole way through,” which is to say not at all. But, in my defense, no film we screened in class was longer than ninety minutes, and I was not going to speed up this film.

Laura Mulvey Riddles of the Sphinx

To atone for my scholarly and pedagogical sins, I’ll be heading to Pratt on Tuesday, March 10, for the screening of Riddles of the Sphinx, with introduction and Q&A by scholar-in-residence/filmmaker Laura Mulvey. You should go, too.

She will also be giving a public lecture, Gleaning, Détournement and the Compilation Film: Some Thoughts on Un’ora sola ti vorrei (Alina Marazzi, 2002) the following day. Alas, I won’t be able to make the lecture because I teach a class at that time.

Riddles of the Sphinx Screening and Q&A

  • March 10, 2015
  • Pratt Institute, Higgins Hall
  • Info

Leave a Comment