The Documentary Tradition

Nico Baumbach

This class offers an introduction to the history of documentary cinema and to the theoretical and philosophical questions opened up by the use of moving images to bear witness, persuade, archive the past, or inspire us to change the future.

How are documentaries different than fiction films? What is the role of aesthetics in relation to facts and evidence in different documentary traditions? How do documentaries negotiate appeals to emotions with rational argument? From the origins of cinema to our current “post-truth” digital age, we will look at the history of how cinema has attempted to shape our understanding of reality.