12 blogs from 2012

30th December 2012

The most popular strand of this blog is the ‘Links for the week’ feature that I aim to post each Sunday. Although I pick up my recommendations from Twitter and Facebook as well as my general reading around the web, many of the links that I include come from a core of blogs that I find particularly valuable and that constantly engage and enlighten me. So for this final ‘Links’ post of the year I thought I would highlight twelve of those blogs and pick out a single post from each from 2012. Normal service will be resumed next Sunday. Happy New Year!

• The Bardathon

Dr Peter Kirwan’s blog at the University of Nottingham offers an unparalleled discussion of productions of early modern drama, and of related topics; among his best recent pieces is a detailed review of The Changeling at the Young Vic (published 26 November).

BBC: Adam Curtis

There’s nothing else online like this – and no-one but documentary maker Adam Curtis has anything close to his access to the BBC’s archive. Weaving a smart, dead-pan commentary around weird and wonderful, plain and prosaic films extracts, Curtis tells wide-ranging stories of culture and politics. A mile or two off Yarmouth (24 February) typically brings together Ealing Studios, Fred Hoyle, Robert Hamer, the ergodic hypothesis, black holes, the Big Bang (in both senses) and the economic crisis of 2008.

BBC: Research and Development

Inevitably it’s a bit nerdy, but there is no better place to find out about cutting edge developments in television and related technologies. Little sun (8 August 2012) is a typically informative post about a BBC R&D collaboration with Studio Olafur Eliasson to create a participatory art experience at the Tate Modern.

Celebrity gossip, academic style

As author Anne Helen Petersen says, this essential blog is ‘an attempt to reconcile my current research, a fascination with stars, and the impulse to alter the landscape of academic publishing.’ All true, except that it gives little sense of the intelligent fun that she has with the lives and images of the rich and famous. A concise case for Leo: the perfect Gatsby (27 May) is a great read on why Di Caprio is ‘UNBELIEVABLY PERFECT FOR GATSBY’ in Baz Luhrmann’s much-anticipated movie.

Confessions of an aca-fan

Henry Jenkins’ blog is an invaluable resource for ideas about transmedia storytelling, fan studies, spreadable media and more. Jenkins is the Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and the co-author of the forthcoming Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture. As a trailer for that, and as a way of getting a handle on some of the ideas that currently interest him, see Spread That!: further essays from the spreadable media project (4 Decembe

Film studies for free

We all owe Catherine Grant at the University of Sussex a great debt for her relentless pursuit of freely available online resources for cinema studies, and for the always engaging way in which she presents them to us. She is also a persuasive advocate for the value of video essays, and this post highlights some of the very best: Dreaming of westerns… more video essays including Tag Gallagher’s classic on Stagecoach (8 November)

Just TV

Media scholar Jason Mittell is our go-to man for discussion of serial television drama in the States. He has been on a German sabbatical this year and he has been blogging drafts of his forthcoming book, Complex TV. For a sample of his interests and his approach to writing about contemporary television (and because I’m only now catching up with the subject of this post), try The scenic rhythms of Game of Thrones (5 June).

London Review of Books

If there is a single piece that you should read (or re-read) over the remaining days of the holidays it’s Andrew O’Hagan’s Light entertainment from the 8 November issue of the LRB. It’s an astonishing piece of writing, of research, of original thinking and of quiet polemic, and it demonstrates just how important the magazine is as a home for such extensive and considered analyses of our contemporary world.

Luke McKernan

Luke is a colleague, a much-valued adviser to the Screen Plays research project, a film historian and Lead Curator, Moving Image at The British Library. His interests cross-over with many of mine but there is much that he knows so much more about, including early cinema, and on his personal blog he often writes wonderfully about film and archiving and memory and more. How colour works (25 November, and from which I have appropriated the colour chart above) is a great post with a profusion of links about recent scholarship on colour and cinema.

The New York Review of Books

An unadventurous choice, perhaps, but little else comes close as an ecelctic collection of compelling articles by exceptional writers. My choice from the past year is in fact a very recent reprint from the first issue of the NYRB in February 1963, Dejeuner sur l’herbe, which is Mary McCarthy on William S Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch:

Many readers complain that they cannot get through The Naked Lunch. And/or that they find it disgusting. It is disgusting and sometimes tiresome, often in the same places. The prominence of the anus, of faeces, and of all sorts of “horrible” discharges, as the characters would say, from the body’s orifices, becomes too much of a bad thing, like the sado-masochistic sex performances…

Yet what saves The Naked Lunch is not a literary ancestor but humor. Burroughs’s humor is peculiarly American, at once broad and sly. It is the humor of a comedian, a vaudeville performer playing in One, in front of the asbestos curtain to some Keith Circuit or Pantages house long since converted to movies.

Observations on film art

If I could only take one blog with me to a desert island, it would probably be David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s erudite and enthusiastic exploration of film history. The wayward charms of Cinerama (27 September), written by David Bordwell, is a seemingly effortless demonstration of what makes this blog great: technological analysis, wide-ranging cultural comparisons, an anecdote or two, witness statements by those involved in film history, great images and a deep but far from uncritical passion for film.

we make money not art

There is no better person to follow to keep up with sci-art cross-overs than Régine Debatty, who seems to see and write knowledgeably about every relevant gallery show across Europe. She also gets hold of or creates a great selection of images. FutureEverybody, the art of participatory technologies (4 June) is a report from this year’s FutureEverything festival in Manchester.

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