CTI Textual Studies

Guide to Digital Resources 1996-98

Table of Contents

Film, Media, and Performing Arts




Film and Media Studies

Resources relevant to the study of Film and Media Studies tend to fall into similar categories and, indeed, frequently overlap. Entries for this section have been organised according to three broadly-defined resource types: reference databases, full-text databases or collections of resources, and thirdly, more specifically teaching-oriented packages, which may also include some primary resources but which also contain some critical commentary or contextual information.

For both subject areas there exist an abundance of substantial reference resources. These include film reference databases, which differ in emphasis, breadth and depth of information, but generally include entries by film title with varying amounts of additional information.The Film Index International, for example, provides a comprehensive collection of short entries for 90,000 'international' films, with other relevant information, such as biographical details for personalities and references to relevant periodical articles. For secondary film resources, the International FilmArchive CD-ROM provides a database of film and television journals, with entries searchable at article level. Produced by FIAF, the extensive indexing and annotation has been carried out by archivists and film experts.

Useful for both research and teaching purposes are the many collections of newspapers which are commerically available, usually on one or a collection of CD-ROMs. These range in both scope and choice of content, with collections of recent publications available for European, British and American newspapers. Sore 24 Ore, for example, makes issues of this leading Italian newspaper available via year-by-year collections. There are also historical collections, such as the Civil War - A Newspaper Perspective collection or Changing Times, which presents thousands of articles and images selected from The Times between 1785-1985. An obvious drawback to many of these products is, however, price; most come with a network licence so may be suitable for acquisition at an institutional level.

Other resources are more readily applicable to a structured application within teaching, with the inclusion of multimedia elements holding particular relevance for these subject areas. 'Blood Cinema' provides a structured commentary on dominant themes in Spanish film, with a collection of illustrative film-clips which are analysed and discussed on-screen. Use is made of audio, and contextual materials are also included, to give a wider breadth to the resource. There has been substantial academic input into the package - it was conceived and directed by Critical Studies scholar Marsha Kinder - and as such provides a fine example of a structured teaching package which may be useful within a HE teaching context. The Voyager collection of CD-ROMs contains many products which be may of interest for use in teaching; Ephemeral Films provides a fascinating collection of predominantly nineteen-fifties and -sixties US publicity films, with a critical perspective provided by the contributions of Rick Prelinger. A critical perspective on the work and theories of Marshall McLuhan - particularly relevant to media theory in the Internet age - is provided by Voyager's Understanding McLuhan.The Broadcast News CD-ROM provides full-text transcripts from recent interviews and news programmes, with some images, which have been sourced from various American news organisations; teaching-oriented theme-based 'trails' are provided through the literature, to give a more clearly directed approach to the content.

Performing Arts

A complete picture of the resources which are available for Drama or Performance Arts will be achieved by also consulting the Literature section of this guide. This section deals instead with those resources which aid the manipulation and analysis of performance and/or dramatic text.

TheatreGame provides a good example of an essentially uncomplicated resource whose interactive, flexible nature make it particularly useful within a teaching and learning context. It enables users to take on the role of director for a performance of Hamlet, including stage design, choice of props and so on, as well as the selection and direction of 'actors'. It will allow a teacher or learner to add to, alter and manipulate the material within the resource, thus creating an open, flexible environment. The Display program gives more complex opportunities for the concurrent analysis of both text and performance, providing a flexible shell in which teacher or learner can insert text, film, annotation and commentary. The program allows various types of analysis to be performed and has the interesting perspective of allowing analysis to either be directed towards analysis of text or with the eventual aim of putting on a performance. Finally, the Performance Shakespeare CD-ROM, due for release early in 1997, gives a performance-centred perspective of King Lear. The resource consists of video footage of three 'live' performances of the play, surrounded by commentary from Shakespeare scholars and actors and the full, searchable text. The user is encouraged to use the package to create their own interpretation of a performance and to examine the issues involved in putting on a performance from various perspectives: actor, director and so on.

For Media and Film Studies and Performance Arts, the resources which have been designed with a teaching perspective in mind, such as Blood Cinema, Broadcast News and Performance Shakespeare, are in the main most easily adapted for use in the classroom or for individual study. However, there can be no disputing the value of the reference and full-text databases for guided study or personal research, particularly given the breadth of sources which they cover and the fast and flexible access which they afford.


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HTML Author: Sarah Porter
Document created: 17 December 1996
Document last modified: 16 June 1998

The URL of this document is http://info.ox.ac.uk/ctitext/resguide/film96.html