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Comparing historical cinema cultures : reflections on new cinema history and comparison with a cross-national case study on Antwerp and Rotterdam

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Abstract
The increasing amount of data on historical film exhibition, programming and experiences, more in particular the construction of large databases on these matters, offers a plethora of new opportunities for understanding film cultures from the past. However, it also raises new conceptual, epistemological and methodological questions, for instance, on how to connect and compare these data in meaningful ways. Dealing with issues of comparison and triangulation in relation to film historiography, this contribution will tackle theoretical and methodological complications that scholars in adjoining fields have faced in the past. After a brief overview of existing research traditions in film and cinema history, the chapter will reflect on various case studies, exemplifying the issue of heterogeneous comparison. This applies to the triangulation of various forms of approaches or data categories, such as for instance spatial data, programming data and oral history (e.g. in the Enlightened City project). It touches upon the problem of how to combine cinema-related and non-cinema-related data sets. What are the opportunities and challenges of such combinations of methods? A related category is the asymmetrical comparison, pointing at the practical and methodological issues often encountered in comparative research when the data sets of the selected cases are unequally composed (e.g. the Rotterdam/Antwerp project). Or this could relate to more theoretical issues of comparing two very divergent cases, for instance comparing western and non-western case studies, and the opportunities and dangers involved (cf. the Flanders-Mexico project). In the second section we want to zoom in on various traditions of comparative historiography and historical sociology. Social and economic historians have theorized about comparative history in ways that differed from scholars in the fields of cultural history or the history of ideas. The emerging discipline of World history is also fundamentally engaged in questions of comparison. How can these diverse currents of thought benefit new cinema historiography? What typologies of questions and approaches do they offer? We will discuss some crucial interventions in these debates, singling out a number of key issues, such as: micro versus macro levels of analysis; structuralism versus culturalism debate; historical particularity versus theoretical generalization. The conclusion offers possibilities for future research agendas, thereby looking at the challenges and opportunities of comparative history for the new cinema historian.
Keywords
programming and experiences, film historiography, comparative history, film exhibition

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MLA
Biltereyst, Daniël, Thunnis Van Oort, and Philippe Meers. “Comparing Historical Cinema Cultures : Reflections on New Cinema History and Comparison with a Cross-national Case Study on Antwerp and Rotterdam.” The Routledge Companion to New Cinema History. Ed. Daniël Biltereyst, Richard Maltby, & Philippe Meers. New York: Routledge, 2019. 96–111. Print.
APA
Biltereyst, D., Van Oort, T., & Meers, P. (2019). Comparing historical cinema cultures : reflections on new cinema history and comparison with a cross-national case study on Antwerp and Rotterdam. In D. Biltereyst, R. Maltby, & P. Meers (Eds.), The Routledge companion to new cinema history (pp. 96–111). New York: Routledge.
Chicago author-date
Biltereyst, Daniël, Thunnis Van Oort, and Philippe Meers. 2019. “Comparing Historical Cinema Cultures : Reflections on New Cinema History and Comparison with a Cross-national Case Study on Antwerp and Rotterdam.” In The Routledge Companion to New Cinema History, ed. Daniël Biltereyst, Richard Maltby, and Philippe Meers, 96–111. New York: Routledge.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Biltereyst, Daniël, Thunnis Van Oort, and Philippe Meers. 2019. “Comparing Historical Cinema Cultures : Reflections on New Cinema History and Comparison with a Cross-national Case Study on Antwerp and Rotterdam.” In The Routledge Companion to New Cinema History, ed. Daniël Biltereyst, Richard Maltby, and Philippe Meers, 96–111. New York: Routledge.
Vancouver
1.
Biltereyst D, Van Oort T, Meers P. Comparing historical cinema cultures : reflections on new cinema history and comparison with a cross-national case study on Antwerp and Rotterdam. In: Biltereyst D, Maltby R, Meers P, editors. The Routledge companion to new cinema history. New York: Routledge; 2019. p. 96–111.
IEEE
[1]
D. Biltereyst, T. Van Oort, and P. Meers, “Comparing historical cinema cultures : reflections on new cinema history and comparison with a cross-national case study on Antwerp and Rotterdam,” in The Routledge companion to new cinema history, D. Biltereyst, R. Maltby, and P. Meers, Eds. New York: Routledge, 2019, pp. 96–111.
@incollection{7021979,
  abstract     = {The increasing amount of data on historical film exhibition, programming and experiences, more in particular the construction of large databases on these matters, offers a plethora of new opportunities for understanding film cultures from the past. However, it also raises new conceptual, epistemological and methodological questions, for instance, on how to connect and compare these data in meaningful ways. Dealing with issues of comparison and triangulation in relation to film historiography, this contribution will tackle theoretical and methodological complications that scholars in adjoining fields have faced in the past.
After a brief overview of existing research traditions in film and cinema history, the chapter will reflect on various case studies, exemplifying the issue of heterogeneous comparison. This applies to the triangulation of various forms of approaches or data categories, such as for instance spatial data, programming data and oral history (e.g. in the Enlightened City project). It touches upon the problem of how to combine cinema-related and non-cinema-related data sets. What are the opportunities and challenges of such combinations of methods? A related category is the asymmetrical comparison, pointing at the practical and methodological issues often encountered in comparative research when the data sets of the selected cases are unequally composed (e.g. the Rotterdam/Antwerp project). Or this could relate to more theoretical issues of comparing two very divergent cases, for instance comparing western and non-western case studies, and the opportunities and dangers involved (cf. the Flanders-Mexico project).
In the second section we want to zoom in on various traditions of comparative historiography and historical sociology. Social and economic historians have theorized about comparative history in ways that differed from scholars in the fields of cultural history or the history of ideas. The emerging discipline of World history is also fundamentally engaged in questions of comparison. How can these diverse currents of thought benefit new cinema historiography? What typologies of questions and approaches do they offer? We will discuss some crucial interventions in these debates, singling out a number of key issues, such as: micro versus macro levels of analysis; structuralism versus culturalism debate; historical particularity versus theoretical generalization. 
The conclusion offers possibilities for future research agendas, thereby looking at the challenges and opportunities of comparative history for the new cinema historian.},
  author       = {Biltereyst, Daniël and Van Oort, Thunnis  and Meers, Philippe},
  booktitle    = {The Routledge companion to new cinema history},
  editor       = {Biltereyst, Daniël and Maltby, Richard and Meers, Philippe },
  isbn         = {9781138955844},
  keywords     = {programming and experiences,film historiography,comparative history,film exhibition},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {96--111},
  publisher    = {Routledge},
  series       = {Routledge Media and Cultural Studies Companions},
  title        = {Comparing historical cinema cultures : reflections on new cinema history and comparison with a cross-national case study on Antwerp and Rotterdam},
  url          = {https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Companion-to-New-Cinema-History/Biltereyst-Maltby-Meers/p/book/9781138955844},
  year         = {2019},
}