While not my first visit to America, it will be my first to Milwaukee, and the first time I’ve been able to attend a Film and history conference.
When I saw the theme for this year’s conference in the call for papers – Gods & Heretics: Figures of Power and Subversion in Film & Television – I immediately thought of the individuals, organisations and publications I had read when researching Reframing the Past.
My paper is explores who the gods (and goddesses) and heretics of Screened History were and are, and the various acts of heresy and hubris (including my own) that have so characterised the field over the years:
Gods, heretics & hubris: reframing the past of history, film and television
In 2004 I began a journey to follow the footsteps of the ‘gods’ of film and history, to find the origins of the field so that I could try and understand where it had begun, and why historians working with film and television were still so often seen as ‘heretics’ by mainstream history. That journey resulted in a PhD – which saw me labeled a heretic by one examiner – and with the support of a number of the ‘gods’ of the field, it also resulted in the book Reframing the past: history, film and television. The book traced what historians have written about film and television from 1898 until the early 2000s. In an act of heresy (perhaps hubris) on my part, its central argument is that historical engagement with film and television should be reconceptualised as Screened History: an interdisciplinary, international field of research incorporating and replacing what has been known as ‘History and Film’.
My presentation will explore the challenges of being an outsider ‘looking in’ on a number of close-knit intellectual communities, of writing a ‘history’ from written documentation when some those of who lived it are still with us, and what the possibilities might be for future histories building on my heretical act. No longer ‘just’ a historian, but not ‘yet’ a film scholar, what does it mean to be a screened historian? Is it still the ultimate act of heresy?
So I am currently refining my paper and finalising the trip … might see you there!
Launched by the amazing Associate Professor Peter Howard (with me in the photo above) – who taught me in my first semester, first year of my undergraduate degree in Arts – the event was a wonderful evening. Full of laughter (Peter quoted feedback from one of my first year essays – apparently I ‘had potential’), good food and drink (thanks ACMI!).
It was a great night that marked the moment when my passion for history research moved beyond things I wrote and were then marked and forgotten, to the moment when my baby toddled its way into the world.
I recently posted on LinkedIn that I had a really interesting conversation (over exceptional coffee in Melbourne) with another female academic. This all came about because (insert music denoting drama/doom/death) I had just applied for a new job. For those in academia you know why this is an unsettling thing, it is as if the entire process is designed to make you question your abilities, career choice, and sanity.
In addition to this my husband recently had surgery to fix a detached retina – which has resulted in an 8-week hiatus from ‘normal programming’ in the Treacey-Minack household. I have been working from home with others covering my teaching (my colleagues rock!).
All of which made me realise I had drunk the Kool-aid. I had begun living to work, not working to live. I’d lost sight of my passion – history, specifically, screened history. And I want it back. So, this blog.
Along with finally engaging with all the various social media platforms expected within academia these days (Facebook is a personal space, I refuse to concede that to the general public!), I am going to start writing about all the things that I think about and questions that I have about Screened History, History, teaching, lifelong learning and the difference between a vocation and a career.
I may be screaming into the void, or may begin to find others like me, thinking similar thoughts, and with similar questions. Or I may just develop into a better writer. I can live with any of those outcomes.