The Mediascape Q&A is a series of interviews designed to explore the work of UCLA faculty and graduate students beyond the classroom.
Matthias Stork: All right, here we go. The first question: what first drew you to studying film?
Allyson Field: [Laughs] Oh, wow, OK. I have to think way back. Well, I began studying film as an undergraduate. I was an art history major at Stanford. And Stanford’s one of the very few art history programs that doesn’t have a critical animosity towards film as a medium, and so it seemed very natural for me. I was interested in 20th-century art, mostly painting and theory. And I was interested in limits of representation, and then I started taking film classes with some professors when I was an undergrad, most notably Scott Bukatman when he came to Stanford when I was a junior, and then Pamela Lee and then some classes in the French department with Jean-Marie Apostolidès on political filmmaking in France. And then I ended up writing my senior thesis on Jean-Luc Godard and Guy Debord as political filmmakers. I was really interested in theoretical questions about representation of politics and questions of modernity answered through film, and so I started in art history but I was really gravitating towards film studies. When I graduated, I ended up applying to the University of Amsterdam to work with Thomas Elsaesser, and there I started working more on film. So I guess that’s the trajectory to film through art history. And then it wasn’t really until much later that I realized that looking at or studying film within the context of art history was really uncommon, that it had been a discipline that really emerged out of literary criticism or language departments. I was very privileged to be able to study film with a background in formal analysis but also theory, and that bode well for future studies, I guess. It’s a very different trajectory than I think a lot of people who either come to film from literature or come to film from industrial studies ever encounter. I was studying film as art, focusing on the avant-garde and then that post-’60s experimental filmmaking, but it was really not until much later that I kind of understood film as an industry, or as an object of industrial concern as well. Continue reading “The Mediascape Q&A: Allyson Field, Assistant Professor, Cinema and Media Studies” »