Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Curating a Philosophy Film Series

Roberto Rossellini: The Godfather of Philosophy & Film
My proposal to start a philosophy film series where I teach has been received with $500 worth of support.  I have had mixed success using films in my classes in the past, both in showing films in their entirety and in showing clips, but I'm hoping that self-selected audiences will be more open to watching philosophy on the big screen than students who thought they were getting some in-class nap time.

My criteria for choosing films:
  • First do no harm financially, i.e., screening cost must not exceed the budget (have to pay screening fees though, so no Netflix-ing)
  • While I do believe movies like Freddy vs. Jason have philosophical value (e.g., Freddy's Cartesian Rationalism vs. Jason's Humean Empiricism), such movies are better for the classroom than for extra-curricular film screenings
  • Should hopefully open students up to the idea that philosophy is useful, interesting, and relevant, so more Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein than I Heart Huckabees...
Films I've looked into screening thus far:

Hannah Arendt (Zeitgeist)
The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (Zeitgeist)
An Encounter with Simone Weil (Line Street)
Suggestions from Twitterverse (in order received):
Suggestions from Blogosphere (please suggest films in the comments below)???
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  1. I think "Harold and Maude" can be an excellent film to spark discussions of our relationship with our own mortality (for which it pairs nicely with some Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe, III), or discussions about friendship (for which, I dunno, maybe some Aristotle?).

    Some people like "Waking Life" to get some Cartesian themes on the table, others think it's no good without cannabis in the audience. It's been so long since the last time I watched it that I couldn't say for sure.

  2. Thanks again for the suggestion and for the discussion on twitter. Only just noticed though that I had misread you and thought you'd said Waking Life was no good "without cannibals in the audience"...