From the Affiliated Societies column of the November 2006 Perspectives
The Historians Film Committee at Atlanta
Peter Rollins, November 2006
The Historians Film Committee (HFC) will once again be making—as it has for the past several decades—an active appearance at the AHA's annual meeting. During the Atlanta meeting of the AHA in January 2007, the committee's officers will be available between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Friday January 5, 2007, at the Affiliated Societies tables (located in the prefunction area of the Hilton's Grand Ballroom on the 2nd floor). For Friday afternoon, the committee has arranged a panel in which three major authors in the field will discuss their work: John E. O'Connor will discuss his Image As Artifact, a volume about to appear in a new edition; Robert B. Toplin will address challenges faced by historians of film in Reel History: In Defense of Hollywood, a book that takes a generous approach to the study of film; Robert Rosenstone will lay out the argument of his recent History on Film/Film on History. The session will be chaired by Nicholas Cull, a professor of both history and film at USC. Cynthia Miller, scholar-in-residence at the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College, Boston, and the book review editor of HFC's journal, Film and History, will offer comments and suggest themes of interest to scholars today.
By the time HFC makes an appearance at the AHA's annual meeting, it will already have held (November 8–12, 2006) its own annual conference in Dallas, with a focus on the theme "The Documentary Tradition." Nearly 400 papers are expected to be delivered at this conference by historians, filmmakers, and film critics. The papers will include discussions on teaching with film, the cultural context for documentary and propaganda, and the "art of the real." Among those participating are: D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, two leading proponents of "direct cinema" and makers of The War Room (1993) a privileged, insider view of the first Clinton presidential campaign; scholars such as John E. O'Connor (founder of the committee); Robert B. Toplin; James Welsh (founder of the Literature/Film Quarterly); Ray Fielding (senior scholar and author); and Peter Rollins (current editor of Film & History).
Since 1970, the Historians Film Committee has participated in AHA annual meetings and has published Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television. More recently, it has produced CD-ROMs with research and teaching materials and Proceedings from its various conferences.
The web site for Film & History—www.filmandhistory.org—provides more details about the journal and the committee, and also the entire program for the 2006 Dallas conference.