MPF 327 Chapter Notes -Film Stock, Lost Film, Film Theory
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Film History as History
Weekly reading #1
A lot of what was said in this chapter had to do with the explanation of
what film history is and what historians do. Many vague questions were
addressed in this introductory chapter along with the different types of historical
views. The empiricist philosophical view of history is interesting to look at for
example. Empiricist history is a simplistic view that focuses on method and
primary sources. It uses experience to determine the past. The past however is
much more complicated to determine.
Not everyone is convinced by empiricist beliefs however; conventionalists
argue that there is a missing link between investigator and reality and that
historians and scientists have a different view of the world, one that is altered to
suit their beliefs. Conventionalists however, are criticized to have logical extreme
views since they believe empiricists are like architects of reality; “they construct
the world they seek to explain.”
To balance out the 2 philosophical views, there is also the realist approach
to film history to be taken into consideration. To realists, how and what questions
must be answered before a why question can be realized. Realists believe that
theory is a “necessary component of scientific explanation” and theoretical
assumptions and explanations’ can be derived from a certain time period or
scientific paradigm. They believe that theory must not contradict and historical
evidence is “partial, mediated but an important record of the past.”
Historians can be bias with their research, their interest in a particular
historical fact or data is what they choose to present in their historical argument.
If a historian has a choice in their findings, then they must have a voice, if they
have a voice then they must be bias. Historians have different beliefs and
different beliefs pertain to different truths. A Historian must select, interpret,
research and judge and therefore historians cannot really be objective.
Being a historian is really risky but it’s almost like being a detective of the
past. Although they weren’t at the scene of a historical event, they still must
provide evidence and work with what they have to come up with a supporting
argument that will prove that certain events did take place.
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