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A Philosophical History of Documentary, 1895–1959

Palgrave Macmillan

Authors:

  • Presents a chronology of definitions attributed to the concept of "Documentary"

  • Argues that each definition is an original ethical premise of documentary

  • Frames and re-contextualizes the signification and scope of documentary’s fragile and sophisticated ontology

  • 3909 Accesses

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  • ISBN: 978-3-030-79466-8
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Softcover Book USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
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Table of contents (31 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xiii
  2. Introduction

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 1-32
  3. 1895: The Lumière Brothers

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 33-49
  4. 1896: Georges Méliès

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 51-63
  5. 1898: Bolesław Matuszewski

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 65-72
  6. 1908: Burton Holmes

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 73-78
  7. 1912: Edward Curtis et al.

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 79-88
  8. 1917–1921: Blaise Cendrars

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 89-92
  9. 1922: Dziga Vertov

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 93-100
  10. 1924: Robert Flaherty

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 101-111
  11. 1926: John Grierson

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 113-126
  12. 1927: Esfir (or Esphir) Shub

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 127-140
  13. 1928: Alexei Gan

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 141-145
  14. 1928: Dziga Vertov

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 147-151
  15. 1930: Jean Vigo

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 153-158
  16. 1931: Joris Ivens

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 159-166
  17. 1932: John Grierson

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 167-179
  18. 1933: Oswell Blakeston

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 181-187
  19. 1933: John Grierson

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 189-208
  20. 1933: Harry Bruce Woolfe

    • Dan Geva
    Pages 209-220

About this book

"In response to numerous assertions by filmmakers and scholars that documentary is past or beyond definition—as if it functioned as an aesthetic strait-jacket—Dan Geva offers an emphatic and compelling NO!  Rather, he asserts that the issue of definition consistently hovers over both scholarship and production of documentary.  In this volume, Geva opens up, through lucid philosophical investigations of filmmakers’ writings and films, the definitions that emerge in their work.  By attending to both their cultural and historical particularity as well as their function as a single transhistorical enunciation, Geva speaks to the extraordinary range of practices and thought that existed between 1985-1959 while maintaining that there is such a thing as 'documentariness.'"
Joshua Malitsky, Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Studies/The Media School and Director, Indiana University Center for Documentary Research and Practice, Indiana University, USA

"In an age when the concepts of 'fact' and 'science' have become focal points of political controversy, Dan Geva’s meticulous historical exploration of the ethical implications of the very idea of 'documentary' film are especially useful for documentarians, film historians and media theoreticians alike."                                                                                                    —Julia Leasage, Professor Emerita, English Department, University of Oregon, USA

This book presents a chronology of thirty definitions attributed to the word, term, phrase, and concept of “documentary” between the years 1895 and 1959. The book dedicates one chapter to each of the thirty definitions, scrutinizing their idiosyncratic language games from close range while focusing on their historical roots and concealed philosophical sources of inspiration. Dan Geva's principal argument is twofold: first, that each definition is an original ethical premise of documentary; and second, that only the structured assemblage of the entire set of definitions successfully depicts the true ethical nature of documentary insofar as we agree to consider its philosophical history as a reflective object of thought in a perpetual state of being-self-defined: an ethics sui generis.

Dan Geva is an associate professor at Beit-Berl college, a research fellow at the University of Haifa, an award winning documentarian, and founder of “The Ethics Lab” (CILECT, 2017).


Keywords

  • Documentary
  • Philosophy of Film
  • film maker
  • documentarian
  • aesthetic
  • ethics

Reviews

"In response to numerous assertions by filmmakers and scholars that documentary is past or beyond definition—as if it functioned as an aesthetic strait-jacket—Dan Geva offers an emphatic and compelling NO!  Rather, he asserts that the issue of definition consistently hovers over both scholarship and production of documentary.  In this volume, Geva opens up, through lucid philosophical investigations of filmmakers’ writings and films, the definitions that emerge in their work.  By attending to both their cultural and historical particularity as well as their function as a single transhistorical enunciation, Geva speaks to the extraordinary range of practices and thought that existed between 1985-1959 while maintaining that there is such a thing as 'documentariness.'"
Joshua Malitsky, Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Studies/The Media School and Director, Indiana University Center for Documentary Research and Practice, Indiana University, USA

"In an age when the concepts of 'fact' and 'science' have become focal points of political controversy, Dan Geva’s meticulous historical exploration of the ethical implications of the very idea of 'documentary' film are especially useful for documentarians, film historians and media theoreticians alike."

Julia Leasage, Professor Emerita, English Department, University of Oregon, USA

 "This book offers a prismatic re-examination of the non-fiction form using philosophy in unexpected ways to lay open the complex struggles at the core of documentary filmmaking's ethical project—a place where each practitioner engages anew with the deepest questions about the self and its ethical relationship with the world. This book is not a documentary history, but rather a vision of how the perpetual re-conceptualization of documentary—far from being a weakness of a cinematic sub-genre—is central the quest that keeps documentary practice alive."

Martin Lucas, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA

 

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Film, Beit-Berl College, Beit Berl, Israel

    Dan Geva

About the author

Dan Geva is an associate professor at Beit-Berl College, a research fellow at the University of Haifa, an award-winning documentarian, and founder of “The Ethics Lab” (CILECT, 2017). He is the author of Toward a Philosophy of the Documentarian; A Prolegomenon (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) and The Ethics Lab Guidebook CILECT, 2019).

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: A Philosophical History of Documentary, 1895–1959

  • Authors: Dan Geva

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-79466-8

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Religion and Philosophy, Philosophy and Religion (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-79465-1

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-79468-2

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-79466-8

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XIII, 393

  • Topics: Aesthetics, Ontology, Documentary Studies

Buying options

eBook USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-79466-8
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)