Franklin Cason (Temple University)
"Avant-Garde Jazz as a Model for Cinema Studies"
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
330 Fisher-Bennett Hall
University of Pennsylvania
My current research considers that pragmatist philosophy offers a productive way through the impasse between traditional film theory and “post-theoretical” or cognitive approaches to film scholarship; a debate that had relatively little interest in, or effect on, the development of African American film practice or black film studies. To make this pragmatic inquiry address African American cinema with some specificity, I suggest an experimental approach to researching and writing about black cinema. Responding to both recent calls for a black cinema studies rooted in African-American cultural practices, and David Bordwell’s claim that film studies has much in common with musicology, I will argue that avant-garde jazz suggests several research and theoretical approaches. But unlike Bordwell’s musical analogies of film form, my target is film theory itself. Black cinema thus becomes an important case study for theorizing aesthetics and politics in cinema, generally. By exploring jazz, pragmatism, and black cultural practices, while following Richard Rorty’s lead in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1981), and Michael Magee’s Emancipating Pragmatism: Emerson, Jazz, and Experimental Writing (2004), I take seriously the possibilities offered by bridging the unique interests between black film analysis, cognitive film theory, screen theory, critical race theory, musicology, deconstruction, and pragmatism.