- Australian Film Theory and Criticism: Vol. 2 Interviews ed. by Noel King and Deane Williams
Part of an edited three-part series, Australian Film Theory and Criticism: Vol. 2 Interviews is a companion piece to Vol. 1. Critical Positions and the as-yet-to-be-released third volume, which will include key articles published during the emergence of Australian film studies. Apart from a concise but welcome introduction, the work consists entirely of twenty-six edited and referenced interviews.
Editors Noel King and Deane Williams, both notable Australian scholars in their own rights, have selected important contributors to the institutionalization of film studies in Australia, particularly from the period of 1975 to 1990. The contributors span the political spectrum and include film theorists, historians, and practitioners, providing a very thorough portrait of the emergence of Australian media studies. Many of those interviewed, including Albert Moran, Mick Counihan, and Meaghan Morris, were instrumental in founding film departments at various tertiary institutions throughout Australia.
Australian Film Theory and Criticism: Vol. 1 Critical Positions detailed the publications and journals that were vital to sustaining critical dialogue about film and television during the 1970's and 1980's. This volume probes those pioneers of academic film publication to explain their choices in selecting what topics to write about and where to submit for publication. Most of those interviewed found their ways to film and media studies through engagement in other humanities departments (especially English literature), while a few (such as Jonathan Dawson) were filmmakers who later sought out theoretical exploration as means of engaging further with their livelihood. During the time period in question, the emerging Australian film industry received general support from the national government, and these scholars' interactions with media policymakers is a recurrent strand throughout the work.
While many of the interviewees shifted between departments, universities, and even continents, the book itself is divided into five parts that roughly correlate to where the interviewees are currently located. The editors have selected Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle, Adelaide and Perth, and the United Kingdom and the United States of America as sites of significant scholarship into Australian media studies. Before each transcribed interview, the editors provide a short biography of the interviewee, establishing a general overview of his or her career path, publications, and current position. Each "chapter," or interview, is introduced with a select quote from the longer piece. Such editorial creativity offers a snapshot of the spirit of the interview, such as Colin and Jane Crisp's "We just thought we were unstoppable," in reference to the enthusiasm with which they and their [End Page 82] colleagues approached the foundation of media studies in Australia.
The collection serves as an invaluable resource to those examining the historiography of general media scholarship. By focusing on the experiences of those individuals who have been instrumental in shaping Australian media studies departments and institutions, the editors have also inadvertently provided a guidebook for aspiring film scholars to consider career trajectories. Most of the vanguards of Australian media studies found their way haphazardly to film and spent years floating between departments and positions in search of consistent research funding. Even the venerable founder of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, Graeme Turner, shuttled between Australia, Canada, and England for his graduate work. Reading and learning from the experiences of those who have succeeded in the cutthroat world of academia is a positive practice; early career researchers can take such examples and embrace being open to different forms of experiential learning and new and untested theoretical or historical paths.