CFP: Teachers, Teaching, and the Movies (6/15/07; 10/25/07-10/27/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Bruns, John E.
contact email: 

Call for Papers


Interdisciplinary Conference
October 25-27, 2007

College of Charleston,
Charleston, SC

This conference will focus on an under-examined topic in the fields of education and film studies: the way narrative cinema represents teachers, teaching, and learning.

Though the cinema has a long tradition of taking school life and teachers as subjects for its stories, relatively little scholarly attention have been given to filmic representations of educational themes. Such is especially surprising given that films have shaped much of how the general public views the teaching profession and education. Films have circulated powerful, though often uncomplicated, representations of teachers and influenced our sense of what meaningful educational experiences are supposed to look like and how good teachers create them. Such representations have also shaped our understanding of the dynamics of teacher-student relationships and the roles (positive and negative) that teachers play in the lives of students and the larger community. In short, the movies have become unlikely authoritative texts on what counts as good education. But have the stories that films tell about teachers become so formulaic, so "natural," that other more complex and courage!
 ous stories seem unavailable to us? Have the movies mystified as well as illuminated the teaching profession and life in schools?

"Teachers, Teaching, and the Movies" will critically examine these and related issues pertaining to film and the representation of teachers and schools. The conference will also explore the use of films in pedagogy--its educational potential as well as its problems and pitfalls.

Keynote Speakers

Henry A. Giroux
Global TV Network Chair in Communications, McMaster University

Henry A. Giroux is one of the leading critical pedagogy scholars in North America and author of dozens of essays on education, politics, and popular culture. His books include Educational Leadership and the Crisis of Democratic Culture and Corporate Culture and the attack on Higher Education and Public Schooling. He is also co-editor of several books, including Popular Culture, Schooling, and Everyday Life, and Cultural Studies and Education: Towards a Performative Practice.

Robert C. Bulman
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, St. Mary's College

Robert C. Bulman's academic pursuits have focused on understanding the dynamic that exists between film, education, and culture. His research, scholarly, and creative interests are devoted to topics on education and social inequality, adolescence, and Hollywood films and American culture. He is author of Hollywood Goes to High School: Cinema, Schools and American Culture.

Paper Proposals

The organizers invite paper proposals from a range of disciplines (education, film studies, sociology, history, English, etc.). Some possible topics include:

--Where did Mr. Chips come from? What are the philosophical and historical roots of that archetype of the good teacher, Mr. Chips?
--How has Hollywood represented minority teachers and female teachers? How has it treated racial and gender issues in teaching?
--Hollywood and education policy: have films affected education policy or public opinion on education policy?
--Film and pedagogy: What is the theory and praxis of the role of film in the curriculum? How should films be used and not used in classrooms?
--Scandalous teachers—analyses of films that depict teachers who run counter to archetypes of the good teacher, films that give us unflattering portrayals of teachers, students, parents, and schools.
--Teacher-student relationships; discussions of films that explore problematic areas in these relationships.
--Teaching as something more than a profession: teacher as saint, surrogate parent, inspirer. How much have the movies cultivated this idea of teaching and has it necessarily benefited the profession?
--Have representations of teachers and teaching changed over time? Does, for example, the model of the good teacher change in films from the 50s to the 60s and 70s?
--Twentieth-century film representations of the good teacher vs. earlier, pre-twentieth-century literary representations of the teacher.
--Non-American cinematic representations of teachers: how are teachers and teaching depicted in the French, German, Italian, and Japanese film traditions? What can we learn from them?
--Analyses of specific classic and recent films about teachers and education such as Blackboard Jungle, The Paper Chase, Dead Poets Society, Election and Freedom Writers.
--Frederick Wiseman's High School 1968 and the documentary tradition.
--Mis- and missed representations: in what ways has the cinema's depiction of teaching and schools distorted our understanding of the education system the teaching profession? What areas of teaching and school life have the movies not explored or blinded us to?

Please send proposals of no more than 500 words to one of the conference organizers by June 15, 2007:

John Bruns, Assistant Professor
Dir., Film Studies Program
Department of English
College of Charleston
66 George St.
Charleston, SC 29424-0001

Paula Egelson
Director, Center for Partnerships to Improve Education
School of Education
College of Charleston
66 George St.
Charleston, SC 29424-0001

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Received on Mon Mar 19 2007 - 14:35:24 EST