Passing Time/Time Passing

Here’s what I’ve been doing over the last few days when I haven’t been watching films at the DC Underground Film Festival.

First, I mentioned in passing last week that I would be leading a discussion in a graduate seminar at the University of Maryland on 1950s juvenile delinquency films, specifically Blackboard Jungle and Rebel Without a Cause. It’s the first time I’ve been invited to speak in a graduate seminar, so the invitation itself was very flattering, and I very much enjoyed the experience. Because of my love-hate relationship with movies about teachers, I found Blackboard Jungle particularly fun to discuss. If you haven’t seen the film in a while, it’s worth watching again, especially for the homoerotic subtext between the teacher (played by Glenn Ford) and Miller, one of the class leaders (Sidney Poitier). The film’s hysteria regarding delinquency may appear quaint now, particularly when Ford directly addresses the camera to warn his audience (fellow teachers? adult spectators? the teenage spectators who embraced the film?) about the perils of delinquency.

Yesterday, I came across the Internet Archive, a resource that brings together several amazing collections of films, videos, and other moving images. I knew about the Prelinger Archives, but many of these collections are new to me (via Atrios). Not sure I have much to add here. In a sense, this link is a self-reminder for me as I set up my next assignment in my junior seminar, which requires students to do “historical research” on a media artifact from before 1985. When my students write their research papers later this semester, it’ll be worth pointing them to these archives to provide them with some other materials that might help them to find and develop an interesting topic.

Finally, Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter With Kansas is speaking here at CUA this afternoon. I’ve been rethinking some of Frank’s ideas after hearing a paper that name-dropped Frank at Visible Evidence, so I’m very much looking forward to the talk (and hopefully that will translate into yet another blog entry).

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