Tom Gunning Lecture


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Tom Gunning Lecture

  1. Thursday, February 2, 2012 5:00 p.m.

Hand and Eye: The Thaumatrope and a New Era of Images

The nineteenth century saw the commercialization of a series of optical devices known as "Philosophical Toys," because they demonstrated certain perceptual phenomenon.  The thaumatrope was one of the first of these, a simple device that optically superimposed images.  Exploring the toy and the discourse generated around it by inventor John Ayrton Paris, Tom Gunning claims this simple device introduced a new era of technological and perceptual images.

The lecture will be preceded by a 3:00pm screening of the film, Merci Mr. Robertson.  You can find more information on the film screening here.

The events are being presented as part of Master Classes in the Humanities: The Art of Interpretation, a lecture series at Indiana University, Bloomington, by outstanding scholars from different fields addressed to a broad academic audience. The lectures focus not on the speakers' respective fields of expertise, but rather on the core competence of the humanities: interpretation. For more information, click here.

Tom Gunning, University of Chicago:

Tom Gunning has established himself as one of the leading scholars of film in the United States. The Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, he works on problems of film style and interpretation, film history and film culture. His published work has concentrated on early cinema (from its origins to World War I) as well as on the culture of modernity from which cinema arose (relating it to still photography, stage melodrama, magic lantern shows, as well as wider cultural concerns such as the tracking of criminals, the World Expositions, and Spiritualism). His book D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film (1994) traces the ways film style interacted with new economic structures in the early American film industry and with new tasks of story telling. He has also written on genre in Hollywood cinema and on the relation between cinema and technology. He has also authored The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity (2008), well as over hundred articles on early cinema, film history and theory, avant-garde film, film genre, and cinema and modernism. With Andre Gaudreault he originated the influential theory of the "Cinema of Attractions." In 2009 he was awarded a Andrew A. Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award, the first film scholar to receive one and in 2010 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is currently working on a book on the invention of the moving image.