Keeping it Real: Engaging University Students in an Avant-Garde Film Studies' Classroom
Critical studies classes of any art form are essential to the foundational knowledge that art practitioners and scholars alike need in order to achieve success within their field. Without an appreciation or awareness of the major movements and principal works of a medium, students will be ill-prepared for practical applications of art skills (i.e. making a film, painting a picture) or the rigors of advanced graduate study, which often requires that students—as potential future educators—know the historiography and methodology that defines their subject area.
The study of film, in particular, seems saturated with students eager to get behind the camera and make their own texts without proper grounding in the history, research, and reception of the film medium. Indeed, these students often exhibit little patience or interest in learning to recognize and appreciate the craft and techniques of those filmmakers that came before them, via their critical studies classes. So how, as an arts educator, does one make the critical study of film every bit as attractive, relevant to—and applied for—university students as the production of film?
Drawing upon the relevant literature, empirical research, and qualitative data, I will detail, in this paper, non-traditional methods, assessments, and activities that seek to engage students in the critical studies environment, and thereby offer valuable critical thinking and life skills that will serve these students not only in their companion studio classes, but also in their subsequent careers and studies.
Keywords: Avant-Garde Film, Critical Studies, Practicum, Practical Assessments, Group Projects, Class Screening, Found-Footage Film
Fine Arts Librarian, William Madison Randall Library, University of North Carolina Wilmington