"What Was the Question? Documentary After the War"
Nonfiction and documentary films, in a wide variety of styles, have helped to turn the excuse of war trauma into an assertive, rather than a defensive, position. This presentation proposes a genealogy of cinematic invention in the twilight of war: moments of documentary reconstruction staged as the posing and answering of questions, cinematic “speech acts” that not only allow violence to persist as, at once, memory and history, but which also excuse violence by understanding it, explaining it, and representing it within the paradigms of trauma, confession, and experimentation.
Jonathan Kahana is a candidate for a faculty position in UCSC's Film & Digital Media Dept. He is Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University, where he is co-director of the graduate certificate program in Culture and Media. Kahana is the author of Intelligence Work: The Politics of American Documentary (Columbia UP, 2008), and of articles on documentary and avant-garde film, cultural theory, and American film and television history published in a variety of journals and anthologies. He is the editor of The Documentary Film Reader, forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2011. His current research (towards a book entitled Going Through the Motions: Talking Pictures, Reenactment, and the Question of Action) focuses on historical re-enactment in film, television, and art video, and on critical practices of listening in culture, politics, and science.
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