Four Grinnell students were the only undergraduates to present at a recent graduate conference in cinema studies in San Francisco.

During fall break, Sam Stragand ’10, Eleanor Russell ’10, Courtney Sheehan ’11, and Amanda Stromquist ’12 attended San Francisco State University’s 11th Annual Film Conference. They submitted abstracts for potential paper presentations, and all were accepted. Over the next few months, they wrote and rewrote the papers to present in a panel format. The main theme of the unified Grinnell panel was “Discordant Technologies.”

The students focused on “how the spectator’s viewing of a film is influenced by the visuals and sounds on screen,” Russell says. What the untrained eye may not actively notice still impacts the way the unfolding story is viewed, and the emotions the audience feels.

Except for the Grinnell panel, all the panelists were graduate students and faculty from universities such as Rice, Columbia and Berkeley. Russell describes it as “a validating as well as a learning experience.” They heard praise and constructive criticism from others with much more experience in studying film, and the Grinnellians came away with greater confidence, as well as new ideas to explore. The students were also able to get a taste of film studies at the graduate level, and to learn about different approaches to film analysis. The panelists are eager to share what they presented at SFSU with the Grinnell community.

Assistant Professor of Film Theory and History Theresa Geller (whose appointment is supported by the Expanding Knowledge Initiative, or EKI) accompanied the students on the trip. With the introduction of an EKI theme in film and media studies this semester, Geller is introducing more students at Grinnell to the study of film in her humanities courses, including Queer Cinema/Queer Theory.

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