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Writing about vids for a film studies audience

Just over a month ago, I sent a proposal for a paper on vids to Film and Film Culture Journal, which had issued a call for papers for their special issue on Frontiers and Futures in Film and Digital Media. I heard back from them last night:
Your proposed piece fits well with the theme of the next journal and we would like to invite you to complete it for consideration by the 22nd January 2009.
There's no guarantee that the paper will get published; it will go out for peer review first, and acceptance is contingent on the reviewers having positive things to say. Still, I'm hopeful.

Of course, this means I have to actually write the paper. Now, 4000-8000 words (~11-20 pages) on vids is not going to be difficult; I can write that much in a weekend. The difficult part will be 4000-8000 coherent words that make sense to an audience that will be largely if not entirely unfamiliar with vids. But one of my colleagues has already volunteered to play Dumb Reader once I've got a draft, and I know I'll be able to find at least a couple of vidders on call to be their usual fabulous Smart Reader selves. It's good to know I'm not in this alone!

I'm not sure what this development is going to do to my research agenda between now and mid-January; I have two other papers that I'd hoped to get sent out by the end of the fall semester, but I need to start doing my homework for this new project. I've never written for a film studies audience before, so I need to do some investigating of what that means in general, and what it means for this journal in particular. I need to start reading at least a few of the dozens of books that have arrived in recent weeks (I ♥ grant money). I need to re-watch these vids in a more structured and focused way than I've done in the past. And I need time just to think and draft and change my mind and re-draft and discuss and ponder and revise; writing is not a particularly speedy process for me if I'm doing it well.

Anyhow. If you're curious about the proposal itself, here it is:
My research is on vidding, a form of grassroots filmmaking in which fans edit footage from television shows and films and set it to music in order to interpret, celebrate, or subvert mass media narratives. With the advent of YouTube, these videos, or vids, have begun to go mainstream; but the tradition of vidding goes back to the mid-1970s, when vids were made with two VCRs.

Vids represent an underexplored site of creative and analytical endeavor. Unlike academic essays or written reviews, vids present their arguments in the same medium as the original source. Their creators--usually women--thus position themselves simultaneously as critics, filmmakers, and fans. These insightful and sometimes explicitly feminist readers insist on talking back to narratives that attempt to define, limit, or exclude them. An introduction to vids for your journal might include readings of two recent vids: Luminosity's "Vogue," hailed by New York magazine as one of the best videos of 2007, imagines 300 as a queer dance floor and subjects it to the female gaze--hilarious parody, but also feminist re-vision; sisabet's "Ring Them Bells" reconfigures the excess of Kill Bill into a meditation on the consequences of violence.


So that's what I'm up to in the next ten weeks, although I hope to continue posting about my other vidding research plans as well.

Oh, and speaking of representing vids, vidders, and vidding to the outside world: the MIT/OTW New Media Literacies documentary series on vidding that Francesca Coppa and laurashapiro put together is now online, and it's terrific. The audience, as Laura points out, is middle school and high school students, so bear that in mind as you watch. I'm delighted to have been able to participate in such a nifty project!
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Comments

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I know! It's very exciting!
Exciting news about your proposal! Thanks for sharing it with us.
It IS exciting! Be warned that I will almost certainly be bombarding you all with drafts (or, more likely, messy chunks of drafts) at some point.
Omg yay! Congratulations! I know you'll blow their minds. :-)
Thank you! And let's hope so.
Congratulations on the proposal making it to this next phase! I look so forward to reading the essay you're going to write. :-)
Thank you! Unwieldy draft versions (or portions thereof) will almost certainly be posted here starting... sooner rather than later, I hope, considering the deadline!
The difficult part will be 4000-8000 coherent words that make sense to an audience that will be largely if not entirely unfamiliar with vids

I seriously doubt this will be a problem for you. When it comes to linguistics you're all good and stuff. But good luck anyway.

I very much enjoyed laurashapiro and Francesca Coppa's series and forwarded it to a few of my friends, hoping it would help them better understand what I do. The downside: It made me miss you guys something terrible.
Awww, thank you. All well-wishes are most welcome; words are my job and I love them and am good with them, but that doesn't always make them EASY. As I suspect you know very well.

To my vast amusement, the documentary series is going in my tenure file for my colleagues to watch. Fandom: upending my life in hilarious ways since the dawn of the current millenium. But I know what you mean about missing people--I've bookmarked the files but haven't rewatched them yet for exactly that reason!
I'm so excited you're gonna write about "Ring Them Bells", as it's a vid I love but haven't had/seen much discussion about. And I'm sure you're going to say new and interesting things about "Vogue".

Yay you for getting this opportunity! \o/

And thanks for plugging the doc. (:
Thank you, as always--for the doc and for the good wishes. :)

I'm really looking forward to writing about "Ring Them Bells"; it's such a wonderful vid, and I think it's a wonderful contrast to "Vogue." Part of my point about "Vogue" is that it has such broad appeal partly because it can be read as parodic; parody isn't all it's doing, of course--it's got layers, that vid!--but it works on that level, and that's the default reading mode of a lot of folks accustomed to YouTube. "Ring Them Bells" works in an entirely different way, and that's part of what I want people unfamiliar with vids to learn to see: not just how clever and how technically savvy vidders are, but what an astonishing range of things vids can do. No single vid can represent that range, which immediately suggested some sort of comparative analysis.
Good points all. Given how many different things vids do, it's going to be a challenge to talk about all the levels with just two examples. But you've picked a great two examples.
I'll be looking forward to reading and hearing about your paper. :)
Incoming drafts! Duck!

...well, not yet. But soon, I hope!
So, so ,so exciting :)
It really is!
I'm so excited by this academic conversation that's developing around vidding! :)
Me too! And I'm extra-excited that I have an excuse to make time to contribute to that conversation!