Historical Narratives and the Moving Image: Theory and Practice

A filmmaking course by Oksana Sarkisova and Jeremy Braverman for historians and those in related fields combining theoretical and practical components. The theoretical part of the course surveys classical and experimental documentary films and discusses the mechanisms of constructing and challenging established visual historical narratives. Introduction to the basics of film analysis puts special emphasis on the use of historical arguments, analysis of film structure, editing, use of archival documents, photographs, and found footage, and other means of constructing an argument by visual means. Along with the theoretical part dedicated to film analysis, in the practical component of the course students work in pairs to develop and produce a short film addressing a historical topic or a theme related to memory politics as the final output of the course. Working on film projects, students are introduced to the basics of project development and organization, working with the camera, conducting interviews, using light and sound, and post-production techniques. The course develops analytical, rhetorical, visual, as well as a range of practical skills, including collaboration and communication skills as students work in pairs to produce the final film project, and enhances both students’ visual literacy and their ability to expand their research in new interdisciplinary ways. The course is offered for the history students and other humanities and social sciences students interested in visual imagery. Due to the limited lab space, priority is given to history students.