From the Affiliated Societies column in the April 1999 Perspectives
Affiliated Societies, April 1999
Peter Rollins, April 1999
Historians Film Committee
The Historians Film Committee (HFC) has been busy with presentations and publications, beginning with the AHA annual meeting in Washington where hundreds of new friends met at the HFC table. John E. O'Connor, HFC founder, met with old friends and brought people up to date on our activities while Film & History editor Peter Rollins distributed flyers and information to new subscribers.
The HFC session at the AHA meeting was chaired by Robert B. Toplin (Univ. of North Carolina at Wilmington) and focused on the heritage of filmmaker Frank Capra with a basic question: is Capra's legacy of democratic populism still valid in our time? Lawrence Levine (George Mason Univ.) focused on the paradox of Capra's being the visionary for WASP nostalgia and Dan Carter (Emory Univ.) examined the positive and negative sides of the populist heritage. Comments from the floor were detailed and focused, making the session a wonderful experience for all.
The HFC, under the rubric of its publication Film & History, will sponsor 15 panels at the San Diego meeting of the Popular Culture Association in late March. Many historians are familiar with the historian-made film Goodbye Billy: America Goes to War, 1917–1918 (1969). The director and editor of the film, Patrick Griffin, will conduct an extended workshop about the film, sharing his insider information about the use of film language in one of the classic examples of historian-made films. Many of us who have used this dynamic and challenging film in our classes are excited by this opportunity—and by the 13 other panels to be conducted at the conference. (A full list of the events for Film & History can be found on the Film & History web site, http://h-net.msu.edu/~filmhist.)
A survey conducted two years ago revealed an overwhelming enthusiasm for articles on the medieval era in film. Consequently, Film & History will be publishing a total of nine articles on this topic in the next two issues, under the leadership of Martha Driver (Pace Univ.). The editor in chief of the journal, Peter Rollins, welcomes comments and criticism addressed to RR 3, Box 80, Cleveland, OK 74020 or RollinsPC@aol.com.
Popular Culture Association Regional Meeting
The Southwest/Texas Popular Culture/American Culture Associations met in Albuquerque, New Mexico, February 24–27, 1999. This was the 23rd annual meeting of the regional groups.
Some 365 participants enjoyed four days of panels, workshops, social hours, and readings hosted by Michael K. Schoenecke of Texas Tech.
The prominence of detective fiction in Albuquerque was a pleasant surprise. A great number of writers, including Rudolfo Anaya, Tony Hillerman, Lewis Owens, and Steve Brewer all live and work in New Mexico and use the mixed Native American, Mexican, Route 66, and desert heritages of the region to provide the mise-en-scène for their fiction.
Anaya read from his most recent book. Steve Brewer was the featured luncheon speaker and discussed how writers employ a combination of imagination and local color to evoke their vision. Historians were as interested as litterateurs because, as writers of history, we inevitably involve ourselves in questions about the interplay between interpretation and facts.
Ray Browne, founder of the national organization, reported on the national meeting to be held in San Diego, March 31–April 4 at the San Diego Marriott and Marina—a popular venue. There will be over 1,800 participants and organizers are hoping that the national meeting will prove to be as exciting a gathering as the Southwest/Texas regional meeting this year. The entire program for the national meeting is on the national web site at http://h-net.msu.edu/~pcaaca.
Peter Rollins is the program chair for the next SW/Texas Regional meeting. Check out the regional web site at http://www2.okstate.edu/swpca for details and updates.