Researching film and cinema history

P. McDonald

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Matters of methodology continue to represent a blind spot in film or cinema studies. Rarely, if ever, do works of film research self-reflexively ponder the manner and means by which they arrive at the arguments or conclusions they propose. Should this be a matter of concern? Do film and cinema studies need to think about method? Considering the glut of published studies out there, it would seem the field has developed perfectly well without any sustained reflection on methodology. Yet in academic research, questions of method are always 'how' questions: how do we study film or cinema?; how do we produce knowledge about the film medium and the institution of cinema?; and how do the ways we research define the types of questions we ask and the answers we arrive at? Questions of method are crucial as they go to the foundations of any field of scholarship, for arriving at a methodology never simply involves finding solutions to problems or issues, but rather actively shapes the nature and direction of the enquiries we address. In pointing to this blind spot, I am not saying methodology is absent from film or cinema scholarship: at the same time as deciding what to research, academics and students are inevitably also making choices about how they will research. Yet without any conscious reflection on method, those decisions can only remain implicit. Bringing together a collection of papers which all in their separate ways reflect upon the manner and means of researching film and cinema history, it is the purpose of this special issue to go some small way towards making matters of method more explicit in film scholarship.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)261-263
    Number of pages3
    JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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