An ethnography of seeing : a proposed methodology for the ethnographic study of popular cinema

Koven, Mikel J. (1999) An ethnography of seeing : a proposed methodology for the ethnographic study of popular cinema. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Cinema is a symbolic manifestation of cultural identity based on the experience of that identity. Generally, social scientists have relied on the ethnographic documentary tradition in film to explore issues related to cultural experience. Film studies scholars have tended to emphasize issues surrounding the representation of ethnic individuals rather than the construction of ethnic identity in popular film. This study will bring together the advantages of social science and film studies approaches, while focusing more intensively on the development of a culturally responsive approach to film. -- As a case study, this thesis focuses on an exploration of Jewish cinema. Through fieldwork at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, I examine the participatory nature of Jewish film culture. By interviewing some of those members of the Toronto Jewish communities attending that festival, a characterization of Jewish cinematic aesthetics was constructed based on the narrative motifs, demands of verisimilitude, and their vernacular taxonomies. Taken holistically, these aspects create an ethnographically informed study of a group's popular cinema. -- If we can deconstruct films, which members of specific communities have produced, and examine the ways in which those films are then reincorporated back into their respective communities, we have made a crucial step toward understanding cinema from an emic perspective. What this thesis asks is whether gaining access to a community's worldview is possible, to describe the cultural vitality of the community, by means of the group's popular cinema.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9080
Item ID: 9080
Additional Information: Bibliography: pages 300-317.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1999
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Toronto Jewish Film Festival; Jews in motion pictures; Folklore in motion pictures; Mythology in motion pictures

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