I found Barbara Klinger and Haidee Wasson’s historical genealogies both illuminating and essential to future understandings of the discipline’s attitude to mobility, distribution and how we understand historical research more generally. I felt both could have done more, however, to outline the outcome for film studies. It seemed to me there was a punch-line that never truly arrived. Film studies is indeed lacking acknowledgment of issues discussed by both speakers, but I am still in the dark as to what we should take notice of.
Tom Gunning’s investigations hinted at the epistemological as well as historical underpinnings of the objects and processes he discussed and I felt at the end that there was a lesson for film studies. It spoke to forgotten commitments at the very bottom of our disciplinary activities of which we reamin only dimly aware. Again, I felt he did not address these issues fully in the spirit of critique, but there was a structural comment at the heart of his work.
I see this lack as in no way a limitation of the scholars involved. Both Drs. Klinger and Wasson treated their subjects with great skill and the depth. Their understanding of the critical importance of their objects was no way lacking. I fear however, that the critiques these objects represent to the discipline remain evident to a small group of us rather than the whole conference.
I find this a common problem with historical work (perhaps attributable to my own confusion) that descriptive treatments of facts and events are imbued with the ability to break down previous structures of knowledge without being formed into a theoretical critique.
I do believe that the research Drs. Klinger and Wasson presented changes the way we conceive of the disciplinary methods for understanding mobility with regards to cinematic reception and the afterimages continuing to flood the image market on both our TV and computer screens. However, remain unable to make these arguments without their aid. I need to know more about the structural challenge these phenomena make to the way we currently pursue the study of film.