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MA2059 European Modernism and the Avant-Garde Film, 1910-1939

Tutor: Chris Townsend

Teaching: 10 hours lecture, 10 hours seminar

Value: ½ unit

Availability: Autumn Term

This course is designed to introduce the neglected field of avant-garde film making through a study of its development in Europe during the 1920s and ’30s and its specific relationship to the thought and practice of the modernist avant-garde in other media, especially art and literature. Suitable for second year students in modern language departments as well as in media, the course provides a counter-balance to the emphasis on films made in the period for large audiences. Here the emphasis is on filmmaking as a personal practice, and its relation to developments in fine art and literary practices within western culture.

General reading

Bürger, P. Theory of the Avant-Garde (University of Minnesota Press, 1984) Main VWEA Bur

Calinescu, M. Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism (Duke University Press, 1987) Founder’s Main 111.85 CAL; Bedford Main 111.85 CAL

Elder, R.B. Harmony and Dissent: Film and Avant-Garde Movements in the Twentieth Century (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2008) ON ORDER BY LIBRARY

Hagener, M. Moving Forward, Looking Back: The European Avant-Garde and the Invention of Film Culture, 1919-1939(Amsterdam University Press, 2007) Founder’s Main 791.43094 HAG and also available as electronic book through library catalogue

Krauss, R. ‘The Originality of the Avant-Garde’ in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths(MIT Press, 1986) Founder's Main 709.04 KRA (2 copies)

Murphy, R. Theorizing the Avant-Garde (Cambridge University Press, 1999) Founder’s Main 801.95 MUR and 809.04 MUR

Poggioli, R. The Theory of the Avant-Garde(Harvard University Press, 1968) Founder's Main 700.904 POG

Rodowick, D.N. The Crisis of Political Modernism (California University Press: 1988) Founder's Main 791.4301 ROD

Wood, P. (ed.) The Challenge of the Avant-Garde(Yale University Press, 1999) Founder's Main 709.034 CHA

Week one

Film Without Film – the critical imagination of cinema in Apollinaire’s circle and Futurism

In this seminar we look at the earliest imagining of what film might be as an art form, within the modernist avant-garde. This takes the form of theorising and proposals more than the production of films – although the Futurists Ginna and Corra make six abstract ones between 1910 and 1912 – and initially has only a limited point of reference to developments within the cinematic mainstream. In many ways the insistence on the abstract is part of a refusal of photographic realism that is coupled with a desire to use film’s distinctive temporal properties to animate forms. The two principal sites of this activity are within Italian Futurism and the circle of painters and writers around the poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire in Paris, especially Ricciotto Canudo and Blaise Cendrars. The seminar examines the fundamental theoretical debate in the avant-garde, which relates to the question of time and experience within modernity, filtered through readings of the French philosopher Henri Bergson. If Bergson seems to manifest a clear hostility to the cinema, and in his notion of durée to theorise a property of subjective interiority that is profoundly at odds with industrial modernity, those elements in the avant-garde that are often in thrall to the dynamism of industrial modernity nonetheless seek to reconcile their fascination with developments of Bergson’s ideas about temporal flux.

Reading:

Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) ‘Cinégraphie and the Search for Specificity’ pp.195-223 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Lawder, S. The Cubist Cinema (Chapter 2, ‘Film as Modern Art’) (New York University Press, 1975)

Further Reading:

Abel, R. ‘The Contribution of the French Literary Avant-Garde to Film Theory and Criticism’, Cinema Journal, Vol. 14, no. 3, (1975) pp. 18 – 40

Abel, R. ‘On the Threshold of French Film Theory and Criticism, 1915-1919’ Cinema Journal, 25, 1 (Autumn, 1985)

Aiken, E.A. ‘The Cinema and Italian Futurist Painting’, Art Journal, Vol. 41 (1981) pp. 353 – 357

Antliff, M. Inventing Bergson: Cultural Politics and the Parisian Avant-Garde (Princeton University Press, 1993) Bedford Main 190 BERG/A (two copies)

Bergson, H. (Mitchell, A. trans.) Creative Evolution (Macmillan, 1914) Bedford Main 190 BERG

Bergson, H. An Introduction to Metaphysics (Hackett Publishing Co, 1999) Bedford Main 110 BER

Bohn, W. Apollinaire: Visual Poetry and Art Criticism (Bucknell University Press, 1993) Founders Main 848 APO/B

Bohn, W. Apollinaire and the International Avant-Garde (State University of New York Press, 1997) Founder’s Main 848 APO/B

Bohn, W. The Aesthetics of Visual Poetry, 1914-1928 (University of Chicago Press, 1993) Founders Main 809.104 BOH (two copies)

Burwick, F. & Douglass, P. (eds.) The Crisis in Modernism: Bergson and the Vitalist Controversy (Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Canudo, R. ‘The Birth of the Sixth Art’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 58-67 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE  

Cendrars, B. ‘The Modern: A New Art, the Cinema’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) p. 182 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Davies, I. ‘Western European Art Forms Influenced by Nietzsche and Bergson before 1914’, Art Internationalvol.19, no.3, (1975)

Dotoli, G. Ricciotto Canudo ou le cinéma comme art (Schena, 1999)

Douglass, P. ‘Bergson and Cinema: Friends or Foes’ in Mullarkey, J. (ed.) The New Bergson (Manchester University Press, 1999) Bedford Main 190 BERG/N

Durie, R. (ed.) Duration and Simultaneity: Bergson and the Einsteinian Universe (Clinamen Press, 1999)

Guerlac, S. Thinking in Time: An Introduction to Henri Bergson (Cornell University Press, 2006) Bedford Main 190 BERG/G

Gillies, M.A. Henri Bergson and British Modernism (chapter 3, ‘Charting Bergson’s Theories of a Modernist Aesthetic’) (1996) Bedford Main 190 BERG/G

Flaxman, G. (ed.) The Brain is a Screen: Deleuze and the Cinema (University of Minnesota Press, 2000) Founder’s Main 791.4301 DEL/B

Hicken, A. Apollinaire, Cubism and Orphism (Ashgate, 2002) Founder’s Main 848 APO/H 

Marinetti, F., Corra, B., Settimelli, E., Ginna, A., Balla, G., & Chiti, R. ‘The Futurist Cinema’ (1916) in Apollonio, U. (ed.) Futurist Manifestos (Thames & Hudson, 1973) Founders Main 709.04 APO 

Pilkington, A.E. Bergson and His Influence: A Reassessment(Cambridge University Press, 1976) Bedford Main 190 BERG/P and General AE Ber, F

Survage, L. ‘Colored Rhythm’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 90-94 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Townsend, C. ‘Slave to the Rhythm: Sonia Delaunay’s Fashion Project and the Fragmentary, Mobile Modernist Body’ in The Power of Fashion: About Design and Meaning(Terra Uitgeverij, 2006) *

Watney, S. The Art of Duncan Grant (John Murray, 1990)

Week two 

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Abstract and Absolute Film

This seminar deals with the beginnings of interest by artists in film as a medium with capacity to be ‘art’ rather than mere entertainment. That beginning is in Futurist projects in the period immediately before the outbreak of the First World War (1914 – 1918). The primary form which such films, or proposed films take is abstract - in other words they do not rely on the photographic capacity of film. Aesthetically, avant-garde film takes its first lead from the dominant interests in contemporary painting. Instead these abstract films - which will develop in the 1920s into what becomes known in Germany as ‘absolut film’ and in France as ‘cinéma pur’ - exploit film’s capacity for movement, its introduction of temporality into representational or figurative space. The dominant historical and aesthetic heading under which most of these artists fit is that of “modernism” - in other words of artists responding to the radically changing circumstances of life in western industrialised societies.

Screenings:

Walther Ruttmann Lichtspiel, Opus 1 (1921) All four of Ruttmann’s Lichtspiel films can be found here: http://www.ubu.com/film/ruttmann.html

Hans Richter Rhythmus 21 (1923-27)

Viking Eggeling Diagonal Symphony (1924) A complete version of this film can also be found here: http://www.ubu.com/film/eggeling.html

Lásló Moholy-Nagy, Lichtspiel, Schwarz, Weiß, Grau (1930)

Reading:

Corra, B. ‘Abstract Cinema – Chromatic Music’ (1912) in Apollonio, U. (ed.) Futurist Manifestos (Thames & Hudson, 1973) Founder’s Main 709.04 APO

Further Reading:

Bann, S. ‘Abstract Art – a language?’ in Towards a New Art: Essays on the Background to Abstract Art, 1910-1920 (Tate Gallery, 1980) pp. 125-145

Benson, T.O. ‘Abstraction, Autonomy and Contradiction’ in Foster, S.C. (ed.) Hans Richter: Activism, Modernism and the Avant-Garde (MIT Press, 1998) Founder’s Main 709.04092 RIC/H

Berghaus, G. Italian Futurist Theatre, 1909-1944(Clarendon Press of Oxford University Press, 1998) Founder’s Main 792.0945 BER

Brown, Slater, ‘A Note on Sculptural Kinetics’ Broom Vol. 5, No. 2 (September 1923) *

Goergen, J-P. ‘Viking Eggeling’s Kinomorphism: Zurich Dada and the Film’ in Pichon, B. & Riha, K. (eds.) Zurich Dada: A Clown’s Game From Nothing (G.K.Hall & Co., 1996) pp. 168-175

Hein, B. ‘The Futurist Film’ in Film as Film, Formal Experiment in Film, 1910-1975 (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979) pp.19-21 *

Herzogenrath, W. ‘Light Play and Kinetic Theatre as Parallels to Abstract Film’ in Film as Film, Formal Experiment in Film, 1910-1975 (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979) pp.22-26 *

Horak, J-C. ‘Discovering Pure Cinema: Avant-Garde Film in the 1920s’ Afterimage8 (1980)

Kirby, M. Futurist Performance (E.P.Dutton, 1971) Chapter 10 ‘Futurist Cinema’ Founder’s Main 790.20904 KIR

LeGrice, M. ‘German Abstract Film of the Twenties’ in Film as Film, Formal Experiment in Film, 1910-1975 (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979) pp.31-36

Licht, E.M. Picturing Modernism: Moholy-Nagy and Photography in Weimar Germany (MIT Press, 1995) especially pp. 56-127

Perloff, M. The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant Guerre and the Language of Rupture(University of Chicago Press, 1987) Founder’s Main 700.04 PER

Rainey, L., Poggi, C., & Whitman, L. Futurism: A Reader and Visual Repertoire(Yale University Press, 2009) AWAITING PUBLICATION

Richter, H. ‘Prinzipielles zur Bewegungskunst’, De Stijl, Vol. 4, No. 7 (1921)

Richter, H. ‘Avant-Garde in Germany’ in Manvell, R. (ed.) Experiment in the Film(Grey Walls Press, 1949) IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY (1970 EDITION)

Richter, H. ‘Easel, Scroll, Film’ Magazine of Art (February 1952)*

Scheffauer, H.G. The New Vision in the German Arts(Ernest Benn, 1924) pp.138-151*

Taylor, C.J. Futurism: Politics, Painting and Performance (University of Rochester Press, 1980) Founder’s Main 709.04 TAY

Van Doesburg, T. ‘Abstracte Filmbeelding’, De Stijl, Vol. 4, No. 5 (1921)

Verdone, M. & Berghaus, G. ‘Vita futurista and Early Futurist Cinema’ in Berghaus, G. (ed.) International Futurism in Arts and Literature (Walter de Gruyter & Co, 2000) IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY

Vergo, P. ‘Music and abstract painting: Kandinsky, Goethe and Schoenberg’ in Towards a New Art: Essays on the Background to Abstract Art, 1910-1920 (Tate Gallery, 1980) pp. 41-63

Week three

Different Versions of Dada Cinema

This seminar shows how avant-garde artists in the early 1920s sought to use film to other than purely representational and narrational ends, trying to create either abstract images that could be linked to music, embodying a sense of rhythm in their editing, or else establishing a personal ‘poetic’ vision of the modern world. The seminar explores the milieu in which avant-garde film was both discussed and made in the years immediately after the First World War [1914-1918], and the way in which film was understood by artists and radical critics to be a medium with its own distinctive, radical potential. The seminar examines the avant-garde’s claim to be in advance of, and uncorrupted by, popular culture, and the simultaneous recourse to popular culture, both as a sphere in which to act and as a source of aesthetic forms. Above all we look at the way in which film, through the Dada movement’s idea of ‘event’, became part of a larger, essentially performative and spatial, experience for its audience.

Hans Richter Rythmus 23 (1923)

Charles Sheeler & Paul Strand Manhatta (1921) A complete version of Manhatta can also be found here: http://www.ubu.com/film/strand_manhattan.html

Man Ray, Le Retour à la raison (1923)

Further screening:

René Clair with Francis Picabia, Entr’acte (1924). The whole film can also be viewed here: http://www.ubu.com/film/clair_entracte.html

Marcel Duchamp, Anemic Cinéma (1927). The film can also be viewed here: http://www.ubu.com/film/duchamp.html

Reading:

White, M. ‘Two French Dada Films: Entr’acte and Emak Bakia’ Dada/Surrealism 13, (1984) pp.37-47 

Further Reading:

Abel, R. French Cinema: The First Wave, 1915-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1984) Chapter 3 (pp.241-278) and Chapter 4 (pp.279-526, especially pp.377-382 on Entr’acte) Founder’s Main 791.430944

Aiken, E.A. ‘Emak Bakia Reconsidered’ Art Journal, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Autumn 1983) pp. 240 - 246

Baker, G. The Artwork Caught by the Tail: Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris (Chapter 5 ‘Intermission: Dada Cinema’) (MIT Press, 2007) ON ORDER BY LIBRARY

Camfield, W. Francis Picabia: His Life, Art and Times (Princeton University Press, 1979) ON ORDER BY LIBRARY

Erickson, J.D. ‘The Cultural Politics of Dada’ in Foster, S.C. (ed.) Dada: The Co-ordinates of Cultural Politics(G.K. Hall & Co: 1996) Founder’s Main 709.04 DAD

Elsaesser, T. ‘Dada Film: The Technique of Liberation; the Liberation of Technique’ in Foster, S.C. & Kuenzli, R. (eds.) Dada Spectrum: The Dialectics of Revolt(University of Iowa Press, 1979) Founder’s Main 709.04 DAD (two copies)

Elsaesser, T. ‘Dada Cinema’ Dada/Surrealism 15 (1986) Foster, S.C. ‘Man Ray: Instruments of Insight’ in Peterson, E. (ed.) Paris Dada: The Barbarians Storm the Gates(G.K. Hall & Co., 2001) Founder’s Main 709.04 DAD/P

Freeman, J. ‘Relâche and Entr’acte’ in Francis Picabia: 1879-1953 (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 1989) ON ORDER BY LIBRARY

Gallez, D.W. ‘Satie’s Entr’acte: A Model of Film Music’ Cinema Journal 16 (Fall 1976) pp. 36-50

Hake, S. The Cinema’s Third Machine: Writing on Film in Germany, 1907-1933 (University of Nebraska Press, 1993) Founder’s Main 791.430943

Heap, J. ‘Comments’ The Little Review, Vol. 9, No.3 (Spring 1923) pp. 27-28 *

Hoffmann, ‘Hans Richter: Constructivist Filmmaker’ in Foster, S.C. (ed.) Hans Richter: Activism, Modernism and the Avant-Garde (MIT Press, 1998) Founder’s Main 709.04092 RIC/H

Horak, J.C. ‘Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler’s Manhatta’ in Horak, J-C. (ed.) Lovers of Cinema: The First American Film Avant-Garde, 1919-1945 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995) pp. 267-286 Founder's Main 791.430973 LOV (2 copies)

Marinetti, F.T., Corra, B. & Settimelli, E. ‘The Futurist Synthetic Theatre’ (1915) in Apollonio, U. (ed.) Futurist Manifestos (Thames & Hudson, 1973) Founders Main 709.04 APO

Michelson, A. ‘Painting. Instantaneism. Cinema. America. Ballet. Illumination. Apollinaire’ in Francis Picabia: Máquinas y Espanõlas (IVAM Valencia, 1995) ON ORDER BY LIBRARY

Picabia, F. Caravansérail  (Mercié, L-H. ed.) (Éditions René Belfond, 1974) Founders Main 848 PIC

Preston-Dunlop, V. ‘Notes on Bodies in Dada’ in Foster, S.C. (ed.) Dada: The Coordinates of Cultural Politics (G.K. Hall & Co., 1996) pp. 171-196 Founder’s Main 709.04 DAD

Ribemont-Dessaignes, G. ‘Dada Painting or the Oil Eye’ The Little Review Vol. 9, No.4 (Autumn/Winter 1923-24) *

Soupault, P. ‘Note 1 on the Cinema’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp.142-143 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Digital Archives:

The International Dada Archive at the University of Iowa is a wonderful repository of original materials, many of which are now scanned and available on line.

http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/dada/index.html

Week four

Ballet mécanique, the Purist body and the Rappel à l’ordre

Screening:

Fernand Léger with Dudley Murphy Ballet mécanique (1924)

One version of the whole film can also be found here:

http://www.ubu.com/film/leger.html

(There are three variant prints of Ballet mécanique.)

Reading:

Turvey, M. ‘The Avant-Garde and the “New Spirit”: The Case of Ballet mécanique’ October, 102 (Fall 2002) pp. 35-58

Further Reading:

Abel, R. ‘Abel Gance’s Other Neglected Masterwork, La Roue (1922-23)’ Cinema Journal, 22, 2 (winter 1983)

Apollinaire, G. ‘Les Collines’ in Revell, D. (trans.) The Self-Dismembered Man: Selected Later Poems by Guillaume Apollinaire (Wesleyan University Press, 2003) Founder’s Main 848 APO

Brender, R. ‘Functions of Film: Léger’s Cinema on Paper and on Cellulose, 1913-1925’ Cinema Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Autumn, 1984) pp. 41-64

Clair, R. ‘La Roue’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) p. 279 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Clair, R. ‘Rhythm’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 368-369 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Green, C. ‘Léger and L’Esprit Nouveau’ in Léger and Purist Paris (Tate Gallery, 1970) Founder’s Main 759.44 LEG

Green, C. Léger and the Avant-Garde(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976)

Green, C. Cubism and its Enemies: Modern Movements and Reaction in French Art, 1916-1928 (Yale University Press, 1987) Founder’s Folios 709.04 GRE 

Gromaire, M. ‘A Painter’s Ideas About the Cinema’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp.174-182 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE 

Freeman, J. ‘Bridging Purism and Surrealism: The Origins and Production of Fernand Léger’s Ballet mécanique’ in Kuenzli, R. (ed.) Dada and Surrealist Film (MIT Press, 1987) Founder’s Main 791.43090914 DAD (3 copies)

Golan, R. Modernity and Nostalgia: Art and Politics in France Between the Wars (Yale University Press, 1995) Founder’s Main 709.44 GOL

Lawder, S. The Cubist Cinema (New York University Press, 1975)

Léger, F. ‘La Roue: Its Plastic Quality’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 271-273 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Léger, F. ‘Mechanical Ballet’ The Little Review Vol. 10, No.2, (Autumn/Winter 1924/25) pp. 42-44*

Léger, F. ‘Painting and Cinema’ in Abel, R. (ed French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 372-373 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE 

Moritz, W. ‘Americans in Paris: Man Ray and Dudley Murphy’ in Horak, J-C. (ed.) Lovers of the Cinema: The First American Film Avant-Garde, 1919-1945 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995)Founder's Main 791.430973 LOV(2 copies)  

Silver, K. Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1914-1925 (Princeton University Press, 1989) Founder’s Main 700.94436 SIL

Further Watching

Dmitri Kirsanoff, Ménilmontant (1926) on Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and ’30s, Films from the Raymond Rohauer collection

Dudley Murphy, The Soul of the Cypress (1920) on Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film, 1894-1941 Vol. 7 ‘Viva la dance: the beginnings of ciné-dance’

Dudley Murphy & Francis Bruguière, Danse Macabre (1922) on Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film, 1894-1941 Vol. 7 ‘Viva la dance: the beginnings of ciné-dance’

Week five

The Montage Film: The Avant-Garde and the Transmission of Influence

Montage film is understood by film historians to emerge from the avant-garde cinema of the USSR in the 1920s, immediately following the Russian Revolution, and to represent a synthesis of radical aesthetics and radical politics. However, we can trace the emergence of montage to the associations between Russian and other European artists in the years before World War One, and in particular to the general interest in fracturing the image that begins with Cubism. Rather than concentrate on the USSR, this seminar discusses how montage and associated practices of visual disorientation within film developed from relations with painting, photography and literature. It goes on to show how montage quickly became the internationally accepted radical style, and discusses how avant-garde film developed its own institutions – such as journals and conferences – through which influence was transmitted.

Screening:

Dziga Vertov, The Man With a Movie Camera (1928)

(For further viewing Dziga Vertov’s Kino Eye (1924) and Three Songs About Lenin (1934) can be found here: http://www.ubu.com/film/vertov.html)

Readings:

Petric, V. Constructivism in Film: The Man with the Movie Camera (Cambridge University Press, 1987) pp. 1-48 Founder’s Main 791.43023092 VER/P

Tsivian, Y. ‘Turning Objects, Toppled Pictures: Give and Take Between Vertov’s Films and Constructivist Art’ October 121 (Summer 2007) pp. 92-110

Further Reading:

Aumont, J. Montage Eisenstein (Indiana University Press, 1997) Founder’s Main 791.430233092 EIS/A

Bennett, D. ‘Periodical Fragments and Organic Culture: Modernism, the Avant-Garde, and the Little Magazine’, Contemporary Literature Vol. 30, No. 4

Cook, S. ‘“Our Eyes, Spinning Like Propellers”: Wheel of Life, Curve of Velocities and Dziga-Vertov’s “Theory of the Interval”’, October 121 (Summer 2007) pp. 79-91

Dunne, J-A & Quigley, P. The Montage Principle: Eisenstein in New Cultural and Critical Contexts (Editions Rodopi, 2004) 

Dziga Vertov, ‘We: Variant of a Manifesto’ in Michelson, A. (ed.) Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga-Vertov (University of California Press, 1984)Founder’s Short Loan 791.43023092 VER 

Eisenstein, S. (Bois, Y-A. intro.) ‘Montage and Architecture’ Assemblage, No.10 (Dec. 1989) pp. 110–131

Erlich, V. Russian Formalism: History – Doctrine (Yale University Press, 1981) Founder’s Main 801.950947

Ex, S. ‘De Stijl und Deutschland 1918-1922: Die ersten Kontakte’ in Konstruktivistische Internationale schöpferische pälische Kultur (Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 1992)

Hicks, J. Dziga Vertov: Defining Documentary Film (I.B.Tauris, 2007) 

Hoffmann, J. ‘Hans Richter: Constructivist Filmmaker’ in Foster, S.C. (ed.) Hans Richter: Activism, Modernism, and the Avant-Garde (MIT Press, 1998) pp. 72-91 Founder’s Main 709.04092 RIC/H 

Kaliska-Miller, A. ‘Films’ in Moholy-Nagy: Painting, Photography and Film in Weimar Germany (Wellesley College Museum, 1985) pp. 122-129

Malevich, K. ‘Painterly Laws in the Problems of Cinema’ in Tupitsyn, M. Malevich and Film (Yale University Press, 2002)

Michelson, A. ‘The Wings of Hypothesis: On Montage and the Theory of the Interval’ in Teitelbaum, M. (ed.) Montage and Modern Life: 1919-1942(MIT Press, 1992)

Milner, J. Kazimir Malevich and the Art of Geometry(Yale University Press, 1996) IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY

Roberts, G. The Man With the Movie Camera (I.B.Tauris, 2000) Founders Main 791.437MAN/R

Rohdie, S. Montage (Manchester University Press, 2006) Founder’s Short Loan 778.535 ROH

Sargeant, A. Vsevolod Pudovkin: Classic Films of the Soviet Avant-Garde (I.B.Tauris, 2000) Founder’s Main 791.430233092 PUD/S

Shatskikh, A. ‘Malevich and Film’ The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 135, No. 1084 (July 1993) pp. 470-478

Taylor, B. Art of the Soviets: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in a One Party State, 1917-1992(Manchester University Press, 1993)

Taylor, R. The Politics of the Soviet Cinema, 1917-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 1979) Founder’s Main 791.43090931

Taylor, R. Battleship Potemkin(I.B.Tauris, 2000) Founders Main 791.437BAT/T

Taylor, R. & Christie, I. (eds.) The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents, 1896-1939 (Routledge, 1988) Founder’s Main 791.430947 INS

Taylor, R. & Christie, I. (eds.) Eisenstein Rediscovered (Routledge, 1992) Founder’s Main 791.430233092 EIS/E and available as electronic book through library catalogue

Taylor, R. & Glenny, M. (eds.) Eisenstein, Volume 2: Towards a Theory of Montage (BFI Publishing, 1994) Founder’s Main 791.43 EIS (4 copies)

Teitelbaum, M. Montage and Modern Life(MIT Press, 1989)

Tupitsyn. M., ‘From Abstract to Cinematic Cabinet’ in Malevich and Film (Yale University Press, 2002) pp. 33–66 IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY

Tsivian, Y. Lines of Resistance: Dziga Vertov and the Twenties (Indiana University Press, 2005) Founder’s Main 791.43023092 VER/L

Turvey, M. ‘Can the Camera See? Mimesis in Man with a Movie Camera’ October 89 (Summer 1999)

Turvey, M. ‘Verto>

Week six: Reading week

Week seven

European Montage – the Evolution of a Dominant Style 

It is said that with the first screening of Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin in Berlin in April 1926 the production of abstract or ‘absolut’ films ceased overnight. That may be an exaggeration which explains the huge impact the film had; after all montage as an editing strategy was hardly unknown to filmmakers before the release of the film, and the film was re-edited in Berlin before that screening, with Eisenstein in attendance, suggesting that there is a degree to which the film partakes of a wider European montage tradition, rather than emerging simply from that established in the Soviet Union. However, in the wake of Potemkin, it is true that montage becomes a dominant, if not exclusive, influence on the filmic style of modernism. In particular montage becomes the distinctive visual effect of the emerging genre of documentary filmmaking. This seminar looks at the theorisation of montage by European critics and the effects of montage on the work of Walter Ruttmann, previously an ‘absolut’ filmmaker with his classic city film, Berlin, and the young Dutch documentary maker Joris Ivens.

Screenings:

Walter Ruttmann, Berlin: Die Symphonie der Großstadt (1927)

Joris Ivens, Regen (1929) A full version of the film can also be found here http://www.ubu.com/film/ivens.html, along with Ivens’s Die Brug (1928)

Reading:

Michelson, A. ‘The Wings of Hypothesis: On Montage and the Theory of the Interval’ in Teitelbaum, M. (ed.) Montage and Modern Life (MIT Press, 1992) pp. 61-81

Further Reading:

Allen, R.W. ‘The Aesthetic Experience of Modernity: Benjamin, Adorno and Contemporary Film Theory’, New German Critique, No. 40 (Winter 1987) pp. 225-240

Hake, S. ‘Urban Spectacle in Walter Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City’ in Kniesche, T.W. & Brockman, S. (eds.) Dancing on the Volcano: Essays on the Culture of the Weimar Republic(Camden House, 1984) pp. 127-142

Hermand, J. ‘Neue Sachlichkeit: Ideology, Lifestyle, or Artistic Movement?’ in Kniesche, T.W. & Brockman, S. (eds.) Dancing on the Volcano: Essays on the Culture of the Weimar Republic(Camden House, 1984) pp. 57-68

McElligott, A. The German Urban Experience, Modernity and Crisis(Routledge, 2001) Bedford Main 301.3643

Natter, W. ‘The City as Cinematic Space: Modernism and Place in Berlin, Symphony of a City’ in Aitken, S. & Zonn, L. (eds.) Place, Power, Situation and Spectacle: A Geography of Film (Rowman & Littlefield, 1994) Founder’s Main Short Loan 791.43 PLA

Rohdie, S. Montage (Manchester University Press, 2006) Founder’s Short Loan 778.535 ROH

Stufkens, A. ‘The Song of Movement: Joris Ivens’s First Films and the Cycle of the Avant-Garde’ in Bakker, K. (ed.) Joris Ivens and the Documentary Context (Amsterdam University Press, 1999) pp. 46-71 Founder’s Main 791.43023092

Week eight

The British Avant-Garde in the 1920s and 1930s: Coming to terms with modernism

This seminar deals with the emergence of avant-garde film as a modernist practice in Britain in the inter-war years, read in particular through the filters of literature and the visual arts. Filmmaking is seen as a product of considerable interest in, and contact with the European avant-garde, through the activities of film societies, through continental travel, and through the development of a critical culture, theorising film that manifests itself in a number of influential journals.

Screenings:

 Oswell Blakeston & Francis Bruguière, Light Rhythms (1930)

Kenneth MacPherson & HD, Borderline (1930)

Readings:

Sexton, J. ‘The Film Society and the Creation of an Alternative Film Culture in the 1920s’ in Higson, A. (ed.) Young and Innocent: The Cinema in Britain, 1896-1930 (University of Exeter Press, 2002) pp. 291-305 Founder’s Main 791.430942 YOU

Friedberg, A. ‘Reading Close Up, 1927-1933’ in Donald, J., Friedberg, A. & Marcus, L. (eds.) Close Up, 1927-1933: Cinema and Modernism (Cornell University Press, 1998), pp. 1-26 Founder’s Main 791.43 CLO

Further Reading:

Connor, R. H.D. and the Image (Manchester University Press, 2004) Founder’s Main 815 DOO/C

Cosandey, R. ‘On Borderline’ in O’Pray, M. (ed.) The British Avant-Garde Film, 1926-1995 (University of Luton Press, 1996) pp. 45-64 Founder’s Main 791.430942 BRI

Donald, J., Friedberg, S. and Marcus, L. (eds.) Close-Up, 1927-1933: Cinema and Modernism (Cornell University Press, 1998) Founder’s Main 791.43 CLO

Edmunds, S. Out of Line: History, Psychoanalysis and Montage in HD’s Long Poems (Stanford University Press, 1995) Founder’s Main 815 DOO/E

Hankins, L.K. ‘Iris Barry, Writer and Cineaste, Forming Film Culture in London 1924-26: The Adelphi, the Spectator, the Film Society and British Vogue’ Modernism/Modernity Vol. 11, No. 3 (2004)

Harrison, C. English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 (Yale University Press, 1994) Founder’s Main 709.42 HAR

Marcus, L. The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period (chapters 4 & 5) (Oxford University Press, 2007) IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY AND ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN ELECTRONIC BOOK THROUGH THE LIBRARY CATALOGUE

Rainey, L. ‘The Cultural Economy of Modernism’ in Levenson, M. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Modernism (Cambridge University Press, 1999) pp. 33-69

Read, H. ‘Towards a Film Aesthetic’ Cinema Quarterly Vol. 1, No. 1 (summer 1932)

Samson, J. ‘The Film Society, 1925-1939’ in Barr, C. (ed.) All Our Yesterdays (BFI, 1986) Founder’s Main 791.430942 ALL

White, E.W. Parnassus to Let (Hogarth Press, 1928) *

Wright, B. and Braun, B. Vivian ‘Manifesto: Dialogue on Sound’ in Weis, E. & Belton, J. (eds.) Film Sound: Theory and Practice (Columbia University Press, 1985)Founder’s Main 791.43 FIL

Week nine

Surrealism and Film in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s 

By the mid 1920s Surrealism had supplanted Dada as the dominant avant-garde grouping in France. The ideas of Surrealism are based upon an idealising of the psyche, and a belief that society can be transformed if only the unconscious can be tapped. At first it is primarily a literary movement, but gradually former Dada painters, collagistes and photographers join in. Film becomes an important part of Surrealist practice, largely through the efforts of Man Ray, and then, most spectacularly, in the collaboration of Spanish artists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí.  

Screenings:

Man Ray & Robert Desnos, L’étoile de mer, (1928)

(Versions of most of Man Ray’s films, including some beautiful early colour footage of the Surrealists on holiday can be found here: http://www.ubu.com/film/ray.html

Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí, Un chien Andalou, (1928) 

Reading:

Hedges, I. ‘Constellated Visions: Robert Desnos’s and Man Ray’s L’Étoile de mer’ in Kuenzli, R. (ed.) Dada and Surrealist Film(MIT Press, 1996) pp. 99-109 Founder’s Main 791.43090914 DAD 3 copies

Finkelstein, H. ‘Dalí andUn Chien andalou: The Nature of a Collaboration’ in Kuenzli, R. (ed.) Dada and Surrealist Film(MIT Press, 1996) pp. 128-141Founder’s Main 791.43090914 DAD 3 copies

Further Reading:

 Abel, R. French Cinema: The First Wave, 1915-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1984) Chapter 4 Founder’s Main 791.430944

Christie, I. ‘French Avant-Garde Film in the Twenties: From Specificity to Surrealism’ in Drummond, P., et al (eds.) Film as Film: Formal Experiment in Film, 1910-1975 (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1979) pp. 37-46 *

Desnos, R. ‘Dream and Cinema’ in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 283-285 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Desnos, R. & Man Ray ‘Scenario for L’étoile de mer’ in Kuenzli, R. (ed.) Dada and Surrealist Film (MIT Press, 1996) pp. 207-219 Founder’s Main 791.43090914 DAD 3 copies

Goudal, J. ‘Surrealism and Cinema’ (1925) in Abel, R. (ed.) French Film Theory and Criticism, Vol.1, 1907-1929 (Princeton University Press, 1988) pp. 353-362 Founder’s Main 791.43015 ABE

Harris, S. Surrealist Art and Thought in the 1930s: Art, Politics and the Psyche (Cambridge University Press, 2004) IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY

Hedges, I. Languages of Revolt: Dada and Surrealist Literature and Film (Duke University Press, 1983)

Kovacs, S. From Enchantment to Rage: The Story of Surrealist Cinema(Associated University Presses, 1980) Founder’s Main 791.43090914 KOV

Liebman, S. ‘Un chienAndalou: The Talking Cure’ in Kuenzli, R. (ed.) Dada and Surrealist Film (MIT Press, 1996) pp. 143-158 Founder’s Main 791.43090914 DAD 3 copies

López, I.J. ‘Film, Freud and Paranoia: Dalí and the Representation of Male Desire in An Andalusian Dog’, Diacritics Vol. 31, No.2, (Summer 2001) pp. 35-48

Matthews, J.H. Surrealism and Film(University of Michigan Press, 1971) Founder’s Main 791.43015 MAT

Noxon, G.F. ‘Cinematic Idiom’ Experiment No.3, (May 1929) pp.35-39 *

Week ten

Documentary Movements and the New Society 

With the depression of the early 1930s the British model of a corporatist avant-garde, where artists often work in adventurous ways for state institutions or private companies, becomes a modus operandi for filmic practice and a site where filmmakers continue their careers. In this seminar we look at the situation in Britain, where young artists, composers and writers and experienced filmmakers combine under the aegis of the GPO Film Unit to produce often radical insights into British society, as well as the independent activities of B.Vivian Braun, editor of the vanguard film journals Film and Film Art. We examine in parallel the representation of social problems and utopian social aspirations in Germany, in the work of the young independent filmmaker Ella Bergmann-Michel, documenting the elderly and the unemployed, and Hans Richter’s ‘architectural’ film of apartments built by the Swiss Werkbund (‘worker’s league’) Die neue Wohnung (1930)

Screenings:

Ella Bergmann-Michel, Wo wohnen alte Leute (1931) and Erwerbslose kochen für Erwerbslose (1932)

Alberto Cavalcanti et al, Coal Face (1934)

B.Vivian Braun & Irene Nicholson, Beyond This Open Road (1934)

Readings:

Miller, T. ‘Documentary/Modernism: Convergence and Complementarity in the 1930s’ Modernism/Modernity, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 225–241

Further Reading:

Aitken, I. Film and Reform: John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement (Routledge, 1990) IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY

Aitken, I. Alberto Cavalcanti: Realism, Surrealism and National Cinema(Flicks Books, 2000) Founder’s Main 791.430233092 CAV/A

Carter, H. New Spirit in the Cinema (1930) IN CATALOGUING BY LIBRARY

Dusinberre, D. ‘The Avant-Garde Attitude in the Thirties’ in O’Pray, M. (ed.) The British Avant-Garde Film, 1926-1995 (University of Luton Press, 1996) pp. 65-86 Founder’s Main 791.430942 BRI

Jackson, K. Humphrey Jennings (Picador, 2004) Founder’s Main 791.430233092 JEN/J

Kildea, P. ‘Benjamin Britten: Inventing English Expressionism?’ University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 2, (Spring 2005)

Low, R. Films of Comment and Persuasion in the 1930s (Allen and Unwin, 1979)  

Mellor, D. ‘Sketch for an Historical Portrait of Humphrey Jennings’ in Jennings, M-L. (ed.) Humphrey Jennings: Film-Maker, Painter, Poet(BFI/Riverside Studios, 1982) pp. 63–72 Founder’s Main 791.430233092 JEN/H

Northcott, B. ‘Notes on Auden’, The Musical Times, Vol. 134, no. 1799 (January 1993) pp. 6-8

Stephenson, A. ‘“Strategies of Situation”: British Modernism and the Slump, c. 1929-1934’ Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 14, no. 2, (1991) pp. 30-51

Swann, P. The British Documentary Film Movement, 1926-1946 (Cambridge University Press, 1989) Founder’s Main 791.4353 SWA

Week eleven

Dada and Surrealism’s Influence in the USA

The American avant-garde is transformed by its contacts with Surrealism. This seminar examines the different ways in which that contact came about, and the consequences of it in both the pre-war period and during the Second World War. This is a time when many European Surrealists are living in exile in the USA, and in daily contact with American artists. The impact of these exiles is vital to new forms of American filmmaking, but the seminar also looks at pre-war contacts between America and Europe, and the way in which Surrealism, as a modernist high-art, paradoxically enters American thought through popular culture such as fashion magazines.

Screenings:

Joseph Cornell, Rose Hobart (1936)

Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon (1944)

Readings:

Jackson, R. ‘The Modernist Poetics of Maya Deren’ in Nichols, B. (ed.) Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde (University of California Press, 2001) pp. 47-76 Founder’s Main 791.430233092 DER/M

Hauptmann, J. Joseph Cornell: Stargazing in the Cinema(Yale University Press, 1999) pp. 85-116 Founder's Main 709.04 COR/H

Further Reading: 

Greenberg, C. ‘Avant-Garde and Kitsch’ in O’Brian, J. (ed.) Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, Vol. 1 Perceptions and Judgements, 1939 – 1944(University of Chicago Press, 1986) pp. 5-22 Founder’s Main 709.04 GRE (three copies)

Horak, J-C. ‘The First American Film Avant-Garde, 1919-1945’ in Horak, J-C. (ed.) Lovers of the Cinema: The First American Film Avant-Garde, 1919-1945 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1995) Founder's Main 791.430973 LOV (two copies)

Michelson, A. ‘Rose Hobart and Monsieur Phot: Early Films from Utopia Parkway’, Artforum, Vol. IX, No. 10 (June 1973), pp. 47–57 * 

Rabinovitz, L. Points of Resistance: Women, Power and Politics in the New York Avant Garde Cinema, 1943-1971 (University of Indiana Press: 1991) (Chapter 4) Founder’s Main 791.43097471 RAB

Sawtin, M. Surrealism in Exile and the Beginning of the New York School(MIT Press: 1995) (Chapters 1–6) Founder’s Quartos 709.04 SAW

Schaffner, I. & Jacobs, L. Julien Levy: Portrait of an Art Gallery (MIT Press, 1998)

Tashjian, D. A Boatload of Madmen: Surrealism and the American Avant-Garde (Thames & Hudson, 1995) Founder’s Main 709.73 TAS

Further Watching:

Mary Ellen Bute, Ted Nemeth & Melville Webber, Rhythm in Light (1934) on Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film, 1894-1941 Vol. 3 ‘Light Rhythms: music and abstraction’

Mary Ellen Bute & Ted Nemeth, Dada (1936) on Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film, 1894-1941 Vol. 7 ‘Viva la dance: the beginnings of ciné-dance’

Emlen Etting, Poem 8 (1932-33) on Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film, 1894-1941 Vol. 1 ‘The Mechanized Eye: Experiments in technique and form’

Dwinell Grant, Composition 1, Themis (1940) and Composition 2, Contrathemis (1941) on Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film, 1894-1941 Vol. 3 ‘Light Rhythms: music and abstraction’

   
 
 
 

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