Digital "Close Up" (1927-1933)

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David Pierce

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Digital "Close Up" (1927-1933)

PostWed Jan 29, 2014 9:03 am

We have two exciting pieces of news about the Media History Digital Library to share this month.

First, we are honored that Lantern, the search and visualization platform for the Media History Digital Library, will receive the Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award at the 2014 Society for Cinema & Media Studies Conference (SCMS) in Seattle. This is the first time the award has gone to a digital project instead of a book. We are grateful to the awards committee for regarding Lantern as a significant scholarly contribution to the field of Film and Media Studies, not simply an online content resource.

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As Lantern's lead developer Eric Hoyt explains in his blog post on Antenna, this award is especially meaningful because Eric knew Anne Friedberg when he was a graduate student at the University of Southern California. Friedberg was a highly respected film historian and theorist who passed away in 2009. She believed in the transformative power of digital scholarship and understood the importance of film and media magazines. In the late-1990s, Friedberg co-edited the anthology Close Up (1927-1933): Cinema & Modernism, which curated selections from the important film magazine Close Up with accompanying introductions and analyses by Friedberg and co-editors James Donald and Laura Marcus.

It is our great pleasure to announce that the complete 1927-1933 run of Close Up is now accessible at the MHDL and completely searchable within Lantern. You can find it on the MHDL’s homepage and Global Cinema Collection. The magazine was scanned and sponsored by the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation.

Close Up was a hybrid publication in many ways — an English-language periodical, which was published in Switzerland, bridging the art, literary, and film worlds. Edited by Bryher and her husband Kenneth Macpherson, Close Up became the magazine for energetic debates about the nature of cinema and manifestos imagining new forms of filmmaking and spectatorship. The magazine published articles by filmmakers, such as Sergei Eisenstein, and female modernist writers, such as H.D. and Gertrude Stein. As Friedberg explains, “Close Up became the model for a certain type of writing about film — writing that was theoretically astute, politically incisive, critical of films that were simply ‘entertainment.’ For six and a half years, Close Up maintained a forum for a broad variety of ideas about the cinema; it never advocated a single direction of development, but rather posed alternatives to existing modes of production, consumption, and film style.” Like Friedberg’s own books, Close Up continues to be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of film and media theory.

Friedberg was very interested in how our experience of media objects changes depending on how we view them. This has gotten us curious about the differences between experiencing Close Up in original print form, a reprinted anthology, and digital form. If you have thoughts about how the experience of Close Up changes across different forms, reply to us on the MHDL blog or Facebook and let us know.

More, many more, trade papers lay in store for the month of February. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, enjoy Close Up.

Sincerely,
Eric Hoyt & David Pierce

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