- Conceptualizing the Use of Film to Study History: A Biblio-Filmography
- Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
- Center for the Study of Film and History
- Volume 4, Number 4, December 1974
- pp. 1-11
- View Citation
- Additional Information
CONCEPTUALIZING THE USE OF FILM TO STUDY HISTORY: A BIBLIO-FILMOGRAPHY by E. Bradford Burns With increasing confidence, historians are turning to film as a teaching and research tool. The trend during the past half-decade has been impressive. A burgeoning number of courses based on film appears in college catalogs, nearly every historical gathering, be it the annual AHA conventions or more regional and specialized ones, includes at least one session involving the film (and they are among the best attended sessions); a journal on the subject, Film Ç, History, now appears quarterly; with its May-June, 1974 issue, the AHA Newsletter began to publish a section entitled "Media and History"; and a few dissertations soon will assume filmic form. Seemingly it is no longer necessary to convince the profession of the worth of the celluloid source for history. Now, another difficult task challenges those historians converted to film. They must devise proper methodologies for their use of the film and conceptualize the relationships of film and history. Scant work has been done in either direction. The following biblio-filmography provides a base upon which to begin to construct the theories and methodologies the historians will need if they are to make fullest use of film. Unfortunately, the reading of any or all of the essays or books or the viewing of the films listed below will not guarantee a harvest of philosophical insight into the film, but perhaps coupled with the increasing practical experience historians are getting with films these will plant the seeds from which such insights eventually will grow. Pnofaesson Burns, a member ofa the Hlstony Department at U. C. L. A., Is a well.-known and nespected scholar In the fatela ofa Latin American Hlstony. His new book on fallm and the hlstony ofa Latin America will appear next month and will be nevlewed In Film ê Hastony. The essays and books suggested below vary considerably. Whenever possible, the bibliography eschews the practical for the more theoretical, Some of the materials will link the historian with film as either a teaching device or research source; others will reveal in film certain characteristics to which historians can relate their traditional methodologies; not a few treat the filmmakers' concern with neorealism; still others attempt to explain what film is and what it can accomplish, information vital to historians who want to master the use of the film. Not lacking in this bibliography is the call to the historian to become a filmmaker. Perhaps of all the materials suggested below, the essays of Joan Mellen and Eugene C. McCreary offer the best conceptual base upon which historians can build. Written Sources Arbaugh, Dorothy. "Motion Pictures and the Future Historian," American Archivist, II (April, 1939), pp. 106-114. A history of the foundation (1935) and early years of the Division of Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the National Archives which still serves as a practical guide to the goals and work of that Division. It accentuates the importance of film to the historian. Armes, Roy. Film and Reality. An Historical Survey (Baltimore: Penguin, 1974). An important introduction to the study of film. Although only one part deals specifically with the title of this book, linking film with reality, the other two parts are sufficiently interesting and informative to make their reading worthwhile. Arrowsmith, William. "Film as Educator," The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. Ill, No. 3 (July, 1969), pp. 75-83. One of the most powerful and pursuasive statements on the importance of the film to students and teachers. "In humanistic education the future lies with film." Bachmann, Gideon. "Reappraisals: A Novel Look at Some Uses of the Cinematic Past, and a Report on the Newsreel Film Festival in Grado, Italy," Film Quarterly, Vol. XXVI, No. 2 (Winter, 1972-73), pp. 10-14. Use of the newsreel to get "varied" views of the past. Barsam, Richard Meran. Nonfiction Film: A Critical History (N. Y.: Dutton, 1973) . This book illustrates one approach to the criticism and discussion of film. Mainly descriptive and qualitative, the criticism lacks a conceptual framework for the study and use of documentaries. Yet, it provides a solid base for those beginning to study and work with documentaries...