Thoughts on emerging themes

I’ve had a chance to read all your papers and am greatly anticipating our workshop this coming Tuesday.  In the meantime, I thought I would just very briefly outline some of the common themes I see emerging in these papers, which might give us thought on where to focus our attentions, or how to include some topics that are not explicitly outlined in our suggested overview but nonetheless seem to be capturing the interests of many of us.

The outline below might also give participants a sense of how others (not in their groups) might be engaging similar thematic interests.

Here’s what I see:

  • Interest in how one should/should not define ecocinema (e.g., in Barbara’s exploration of the value of environmental films; Erika’s positioning of Herzog’s films as “ecstatic truth,” John’s exploration of postcolonial films with no explicit ecocentric themes, Nicole’s discussion of the ironic mode and her study of Idiocracy.)
  • The particularly important role of affect in ecocinema: to be “moved” to act must one be “moved”? (Yalan, Alexa, and Nicole were all grouped together because their titles explicitly suggest affect.  In addition, Erika’s exploration of Herzog draws from Deleuze’s work on affect, Heidi’s discussion of Adam Smith’s sympathy also engages affect, as does Barbara’s discussion of melodrama.)
  • Documentaries and realism (Alexa suggests that non-fictional films might have an affective edge because of their realism, as does Yalan in her exploration of The Cove, Paula explores documentaries of sustainability as exemplar ecocinema, and Elizabeth’s focus on experiential education raises interesting questions about the role of non-fictional/fictional representations in general.)
  • The global-local nexus: how can cinema bring “other” localities into our conscience (Heidi and Susan’s papers directly reference Heise’s work on eco-cosmopolitanism, but also others who discuss cinema in the international sphere–Yalan’s analysis of The Cove, John’s attention to Darwin’s Nightmare and The Harder they Come.)
  • Ecocinema and environmental activism (this seems implicit in almost all the essays, but stands out in those on affect, as well as Brian’s fascinating discussion of greenwashing in corporate propaganda on the Marcellus Shale.)

I am sure I haven’t covered all the themes, nor have I done justice in drawing on your papers as examples for these emerging themes, however, along with our workshop overview, perhaps this can be a starting point to help direct our conversations.

I welcome other thematic insights as we make our way to Tuesday.