Kenneth White

Undergraduate Discipline

Film History

BFA, Syracuse University. PhD, Stanford University. Critical Studies and Studio, Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program [ISP]. Research situated at the juncture of modern and contemporary art history; avant-garde and experimental film and video; media and communication studies; history of science and technology; and discourses of feminism, sexuality, and gender. Editor of the book Carolee Schneemann: Unforgivable (Black Dog, 2015) and, with Annette Michelson, October File: Michael Snow (MIT Press, forthcoming). Published in Art Journal, Grey Room, Screen, Public, The Third Rail, among other periodicals and books. Editor of Millennium Film Journal. Completing two book projects: Libidinal Engineers: Cybernetics and Its Discontents and The Hyperventilation Syndrome. SLC 2016–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Film History

Introduction to Film History, Part II

Open , Lecture—Spring

This course provides an introduction to the study of film and its history from the mid-20th century through contemporary digital technologies of production and circulation. Lectures will explore key developments such as neorealism, La Nouvelle Vague, cinéma vérité and direct cinema, Third Cinema, Yugoslav Black Wave, New German Cinema, postwar American avant-garde, New Hollywood and the blockbuster, Bollywood, video art, the essay film, and multimedia environments. Students will acquire fundamental skills in film and media analysis and interpretation. Weekly screenings will be complemented by lectures on in-depth analyses of films and their historical contexts. Assignments will emphasize close reading and sociocultural inquiry.

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Introduction to Film History, Part I

Open , Lecture—Fall

This course provides an introduction to the study of film from its “prehistory” in phantasmagoria, magic theatre, and chronophotography, through its technological development and institutionalization in the 19th century, to the diverse range of production modes in the mid-20th century. Lectures will explore key developments such as early cinema and the cinema of attractions, documentary and ethnographic cinema, the Hollywood studio system and genre filmmaking, the historical avant-garde such as German Expressionism, Soviet montage, Dada and Surrealism, early American avant-garde, and film noir. Students will acquire fundamental skills in film analysis and interpretation. Weekly screenings will be complemented by lectures devoted to in-depth analyses of films and their historical contexts. Assignments will emphasize close reading and sociocultural inquiry.

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Previous Courses

Futurisms: Science Fiction and Cinema 

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course is a theoretical and historical inquiry into science fiction in film, literature, and art. From Trip to the Moon to Scorpio Rising and from Metropolis to Space is the Place, the course takes a broad imagination of science fiction from genre studio-industrial productions to initiatives in experimental/avant-garde cinema and multimedia environments. Science fiction will be considered as a premise for working through technologies of empire, state, capital, race, gender, and self. We will examine topics such as metropolis, colony, and utopia/dystopia—as well as figures such as the doll, puppet, automaton, android, cyborg, avatar, and alien—who have populated science fiction from the birth of cinema to the contemporary. Discussions will consider space travel, time travel, counterfactual and alternative histories, artificial intelligence and post-humanisms, and speculative futures among notions of futurism, constructivism, cybernetics, feminist sci-fi, afro-futurism, recent discourses of the Anthropocene, and more. In-class discussion will be accompanied by screenings and field trips to exhibitions.

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History of the Electronic Image: From Haunted Media to the War on Terror

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course explores the history of “seeing at a distance” (Fernsehen, tele-vision) in art. Organized via case studies of artists’ work, the course will examine the electronic image in its technological and cultural formations from the 19th century to the present. We will proceed from how the electronic image was imagined through discourses of telepathy, psychic projection, and spiritualism, alongside engineering innovations such as the Nipkow scanning disk and cathode-ray tube technology, to 20th- century discourses on military applications of “composite pictures” for strategic control and other materialities of communication, information, and data. The course will consider current developments in national security and foreign policy—and modes of identification and statistical abstraction—through debates on the “operational image” and “poor image” as they pertain to aesthetic experiments with the electronic image. In addition to screenings of film and video, reading of technical patent records will be enriched by readings in literature. Class meetings will be complemented by field trips to exhibitions and events. Discussion will center on artists’ use of the electronic image, considering media and techniques such as: collage, montage and assemblage, experimental film, video art and performance, expanded cinema, multimedia installation, stereoscopy and 3-D technologies, and sound art.

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