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Stream of consciousness/notes jotted down from EWF16 Masterclass: Criticism

June 22, 2016


Over a year since my last post here, and I’ve posted maybe three times (?) in other places on the web. I’ll think about why that is another time. For now I’m going to post some notes that I scribbled down during yesterdays Criticism Masterclass at the Emerging Writer’s Festival, 2016, at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. It was an engaging, insightful day – I left feeling intellectually rejuvenated. I even sent off a pitch within half an hour of the class ending (trying to capitalise on the momentum).

Also of interest to me (and a bit heartening) is that most of the people who attended (and it was open to all who bought a ticket) were young women. But here are my thoughts (unedited except very slightly for clarity, straight from my handwritten notes):

  • From Anwen Crawford‘s keynote address: Does criticism begin in the body?
    • for me, film and animation critique and the strong emphasis on the material, is this more true?
  • Criticism as the difference between feeling/thinking
    • translating from body to mind
    • situate the reader in the world
    • question why and how the film/work has made you feel this way
  • Reach beyond the self
  • Crises of confidence (we all have them!)
    • is this a gendered phenomenon? Men now seem to occupy the critical voice of reason, objectivity etc. (Cartesian dualism strikes again).

From the “Anatomy of an Essay Panel”

  • (Sam van Sweden on the lyric essay) – “gestures” “spirals” “leaves space/makes room for not knowing”
  • (Alexandra Heller Nicholas) – “Writing through the gut”
    • Writing as practice – the reveal in the act of writing. Messy. (this is eerily reminiscent of the academic writing process for me)
  • (Connor Bateman) – What is the video essay? Showing process. You are making the object.
  • Ask yourself – why essays?
    • I think for myself essays are most closely linked to how I write. The traditional essay. It makes sense to me. It’s easy. It can still be creative and engaging. I get excited when I read a good academic or critical essay.

What is my relationship to film criticism? My history? My tension between the academic and the personal. I need to learn how to push my writing further – take the next step!

There is so much writing in the world, how can I read it all? 

From the “Experimental Critics: Critical Experiments” panel

  • Emma Marie Jones: We can never really be objective critics. Our own lived experience will always inform one way or another.
  • Oscar Schwartz: Academic writing is so different, but personal experiences still effect the writing … in non-academic writing, this can be magnified.

Am I too kind a critic? So many things I mean to do that I “don’t get around to.”

From the workshop, “Ways of Seeing”

  • Sarinah Masukor: part of film criticism is “drawing people’s attention” to film and art (think about influences/references to other work).
  • let the text inform the writing
  • Stephanie van Schilt: Think about where you aim to publish. Keep in mind the context of how/when a film/tv series was released.

Ask: What kind of criticism do you want to publish?


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