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Last modified: Thursday, March 18, 2010

Film scholar David Bordwell to speak at Provost Professors’ Distinguished Masters Series Lecture

March 18, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Film scholar David Bordwell will speak on "How Motion Pictures Became the Movies" in this year's lecture of the Provost Professors' Distinguished Masters Invited Lecture Series set for 4 p.m., April 13, in the Moot Court Room at the Maurer School of Law.

David Bordwell

David Bordwell

"This is an exciting time for film studies on the Bloomington campus as we embark on the renovation of the University Theatre and the creation of the IU Cinema," said Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson. "So we are especially delighted to welcome Professor Bordwell, one of the world's top film academics, to the campus. All members of the IU Bloomington community, whether casual moviegoers or serious scholars of film, will find the insights of this prolific scholar compelling and enlightening."

Hanson said a reception would follow the event in room 310 of the School of Law.

In his lecture, Bordwell will question what is the most important period of filmmaking. He will discuss how this popular art form (film) that exists today, emerged in the United States and Europe in the crucial years 1908-1920. Culturally, industrially, and artistically, these last dozen years have created a modern institution of cinema. He will trace the diversity of artistic trends of the period, note the rapid changes in filmmaking methods, and analyze techniques of visual storytelling that remain in force today.

Bordwell is the Jacques Ledoux Professor Emeritus of Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He taught film history and aesthetics there from 1973 to 2005, when he retired. He received his doctorate from the University of Iowa in 1974. He has received grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen. He has also won his university's Distinguished Teaching Award. He is currently president of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image, an international association of researchers.

His work concentrates on what he calls the "poetics of cinema." This involves understanding the principles that govern filmmakers' creative choices and viewers' responses. This framework has led him to study individual filmmakers, national cinemas (particularly American film and Hong Kong film), and film form and style. His books Narration in the Fiction Film and The Way Hollywood Tells It concentrate on cinematic storytelling. Other books have focused on historical changes in film technique, as in On the History of Film Style and Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging. His research has also been identified with a broader trend toward explaining cinematic effects within the framework of principles of cognitive psychology.

At, Bordwell offers several essays, interviews and links. On the same site, he writes a regular blog with Kristin Thompson, his wife and a frequent collaborator. Among their joint publications are two textbooks, Film Art: An Introduction and Film History: An Introduction.

For information on the lecture, e-mail