Home (This Issue)
the Blockbuster Bugtheres an academic method in our DVD madness!
If youve been to the Media
Resources Center lately, in the basement of Carrier Library,
you may have gotten the idea that were trying to compete with video
rental stores in town. DVD movie
titles are piling up with a vengeance on our shelves.
And since everyone seems to be getting a player these days, its
awfully easy to adopt the habit of borrowing a bunch, then kicking back at home
or dorm while the stadium seating at the local multiplex takes a rest.
Is this incredible expanding DVD collection the movie equivalent of the librarys Browsing Collection for booksrecreational viewing and an escape from study chores?
Not quite. Believe
it or not, there is academic value in the feature films on DVD, and
videocassette, in our collection. And
I should also note in passing that non-feature film programming is now being
released on the DVD format, too.
For example, you might check out Red Planet Mars (DVD 83), an
interesting non-movie program with images in 3D.
It’s only a matter of time before this part of the DVD collection
becomes more obvious as the format continues to grow in popularity with
educational program publishers.
And I should also note in passing that non-feature film programming is now being released on the DVD format, too. For example, you might check out Red Planet Mars (DVD 83), an interesting non-movie program with images in 3D. It’s only a matter of time before this part of the DVD collection becomes more obvious as the format continues to grow in popularity with educational program publishers.
let’s return to feature films, and begin with their most logical use first:
has a cluster of film-related courses, now comprising a minor, offered through
English, Media Arts and Design, and Theatre and Dance.
The film studies courses all look at feature films for various artistic
qualities: as adaptations of literature, the work of major directors (as film
authors), and for styles and genres of storytelling, etc.
Because of the quality of a DVDs picture and audio, the random access
to its content, and the supplementary materials about a film it often provides,
the format is close to ideal for film studies.
In fact, the most substantial
funding support for our DVD collection is currently the JMU Foundation.
Before his recent retirement as its director, Dr. Ray Sonner--something
of a movie buff himself--made a decision to help develop our collection to
benefit film studies. This is how
weve been able to grow our DVD titles to nearly 500 in not much
more than a year. In the future,
well be scanning new releases to fill every nook and cranny with films that
are classic, contemporary, in foreign languages or none at all (Hollywoods
silent film heritage), and representative of genres both American (film noir,
screwball comedies, westerns, etc.) and foreign (martial arts and Hong Kong
action cinema, Indian Bollywood musicals, and whatever else of
significance may be released).
In the meantime, were also
expanding the capability to play the new DVD format in the media center and in
our campus classrooms. We hope to
have DVDs usable in most classroom
locations by fall of 2002. Because of the quality of a DVDs picture and
audio, the random access to its content, and the supplementary materials about a
film it often provides, the format is close to ideal for film studies. But
as the collection and playback becomes
fully available, this wealth of movie content increases in potential for other
academic uses besides film studies.
What sort of uses? This one is easier to answer than you may think. Remember, movies are a reflection of society and culture, capturing how we see ourselvesor would like to see ourselvesand how we live, along the timeline of our own history and their creation. This makes them rich artifacts for study and rich tools for illustration. Heres just a short list of non-obvious academic uses already:
All of the foregoing are just
a few possibilities. But they
indicate why a movie need not be just a movie--when its viewing is put in
an academic context. So use the
media centers DVD collection for pleasure when it suits you, but realize that
its first purpose is for study
in just about any imaginative way that faculty
and students can think of.
Next time, well explore DVDs from a different angle: how to handle them, and why they sometimes wont play in your DVD player.
Copyright © 2001. JMU Libraries.
All rights reserved.