Working Relationships

I am working on a paper that is focused on the relationship between actors and the characters they play in terms of the spectator’s perception (re: ability or inability to seperate them). From my notes, it is wrapped up in perceptions / concepts / ideas of reality, representation and projection. All very big concepts in and of themselves. To make this speak to my work, I am aiming to work towards how these ideas work in the player/avatar relationship. In alot of ways, I am enjoying Film Studies with my sociologist eyes/brain – now to see if I can make the jump while keeping a foot firmly planted in each field!

The research is still young and not fully fleshed out yet – so any reading suggestions are more than welcome (as always). As I get more reading done, hopefully I can share some ideas here.

[note: Freidberg, Metz, Cavell are on the list so far]

Searching for Inspiration: Remembering the Drive

Over the last few months, I have been struggling through the thought process on a few projects. Projects that were not selected by choice – but rather through the necessity of my program. At first, I thought that it would pass quickly; they were small projects so they really should not be that much of a problem. But the more I try to work on them, the more I sit at my desk for hours at a time, with all the right books open, appropriate word documents on my screen, there is always a feeling that something is missing. Only after a heartfelt conversation with a colleague today, did I realize what it is; Inspiration & drive.

When I was finishing up my Bachelor’s degree, I was driven not only by a budding support system, but also by a desire to get what I had to say out of my head and onto paper. I remember one of my first presentations on identity in mmorpg’s, I was arguing that my avatar had an identity that was seperate and outside of myself. Unlike the commonly held avatar as representation position, and unlike the material culture position or even the fetishism position, I believed that my avatar was something beyond me. My (then) advisor had told me “…well, sociologically speaking, that is impossible”. My retort was simply, “perhaps so, but it is my personal experience after nearly 5 years playing EverQuest”. From that point on, I had something to prove – to convince him that I was not delusional or simply uneducated in the positions on identity and avatars…

That comment sustained almost 3 years of reading, research and writing. The final product was my Master’s thesis (and all the extra-curricular work around it). By all means not the last word on the subject, but it was wrapped up with a pretty bow at the time. Since then, I have entered my PhD in Film Studies. A logical place to be when thinking about people, avatars, games and screens … and over the past year, I have read quite a bit of literature that will only benefit the work that is ahead. But the detour that is the first year of doctoral studies, centered around lecture style courses has derailed my drive. It has forced me to put my inspiration on hold. Like hiding something for later, then forgetting where you hid it – I have been frustrated that I have not really had the time to think about what got me to where I am today.

But thanks to this realization (and my colleague!) I think it’s time to buck up and get the little things done. Once they are off my plate – in a ‘just another hoop to jump through’ sort of way, I can sit down again and reassess what it is that brought me here. Reassess the fire in my belly (or to stoke the coals at least), since I cannot imagine embarking on the next 3 years of my doctorate without the feeling that something is fighting passionately to get out of my head.

I think it is time to get back to the source of what’s been driving me – my object … my subject … my burning questions. While everyone around me have told me that to get a little bit lost in the PhD is part of the process, I think it’s just starting to hit me that perhaps the point of this first year was to see how far away from my work I had to get before I realized how much it is really what I want move forward with.

New Geography?

I was a little puzzled this morning as I went to click on my homepage, currently set at www.yahoo.ca and I received an error message (would not load) with a pop up message stating “We’ve detected you are using Yahoo! outside Canada. Check out your local homepage here” and it links me to Y!Québec.

Hmmm, last time I checked Quebec was still geographically located IN Canada.

Unfortunately

Due to a foot sprain I suffered Tuesday evening, I was unable to attend the doctoral seminar – of all the topics that have been covered over the course of this year – it was the most relevant to what I do – and I couldn’t hobble my way over. Therefore, no notes or wrap up – but if anyone who attended cares to share their notes or observations, I would absolutely love to read/hear them!

Doctoral Seminar Series Pt. 2

As mentioned in the fall, our department has put together a doctoral seminar series. Next week, Laurent Jullier will be talking about Interdisciplinarity and Film Studies. Quite apropos given my seminar presentation last week!

The talk will be held in room C-2151, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx next Wednesday (April 9th) at 4:30pm. I will be sure to take notes and post them here afterwards.

Reading; Narrative, Film Analysis & Dead Links

As anyone who has read this blog over the last few months, or know me at all really, know that I have been lamenting over my inability (or mental block) to do film analysis. In so many ways, it is not very different than the analysis of a text, image or game even. One book I would recommend strongly (if you can read in French) is Laurent Jullier’s L’ Analyse de Sequence. Written as a student method handbook, it is well written – the key ideas are not buried deep in obscure french grammar; and he is very linear in unfolding what is and is not a good filmic analysis. So far, I am quite enjoying the book – both as someone who has to do (formal)film analysis for the first time and someone who is interested in the conveying of research methods.

While working on a small narrative deconstruction of a film for an undergraduate class, I came across this great project on narrative. Here is the original reference:

Jahn, Manfred. 2003. A Guide to Narratological Film Analysis. Poems, Plays, and Prose: A Guide to the Theory of Literary Genres. English Department, University of Cologne. (Available at: http://www.uni-koeln.de/~ame02/pppf.htm)

It was a straightforward, clear discussion about narrative in all of its genres – fully equipped with diagrams and all! Via Google, below the above-mentioned link, is a ling to an introduction to the Encyclopedia of Narrative, which looks quite interesting (of which Manfred contributed).

On a side note, I was quite happy when I Googled cognitive film theory & narrative (in two seperate searches) and on the first page came across a colleague’s translated Master’s thesis. Thank you Dominic, I really should simply print this out! After a round of presentations last week, I have come to realize that as colleagues, we do not read nearly as much of each other’s work as we should!