CMPM G8477 The Documentary Impulse in the Arts

N. Elcott and T. Elsaesser

The politics of truth have rarely been more pressing than today. And few questions have preoccupied the arts more over the last hundred years. Indeed, the documentary impulse cannot be confined to any single art form or medium. Accordingly, this doctoral seminar sets out from the present to explore the rise of the documentary impulse across a range of early-20th century media and art forms (photography, theater, exhibition design, architecture, and especially film), artists/ documentarians (Farocki, Sander, Vertov, Ivens, Piscator, etc.), and movements (Surrealism, Constructivism, Factography, New Vision, etc.). Readings will focus on historical sources and recent scholarship culled especially from art history and film and media studies. The esteemed film scholar Thomas Elsaesser will be a regular guest in the seminar, which is offered under the auspices of Columbia’s program in Comparative Media. Doctoral students are encouraged to apply from all relevant fields.