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Inaugural Lecture and Reception: Professor Michael Cowan, School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies

Professor Michael Cowan of the School of Philosopical, Anthropological and Film Studies will give his Inaugural Lecture ‘The Scientific Trick Film: Animated Views and the Motion Doctrine in the Early Twentieth Century’.

In recent years, many scholars have asked how Henri Bergson’s philosophy of time and motion might help us to understand the cultural moment in which cinematography emerged, despite Bergson’s own dismissal of the cinematograph. But Bergson was hardly the only person thinking about cinema’s potential for conveying motion in the early 20th century. In this presentation, I look at another area where relations between cinematography and ideas of motion came to the fore: animation, specifically scientific animation. Focusing on the European context, the presentation argues that many scientists saw animation (or what they still called the “trick film”) as a means of educating audiences in the mobile ontology of the world, even as they maintained a deep scepticism towards popular uses of the trick film to showcase magic and illusion.

The Lecture will be followed by a Reception in Lower College Hall. All are welcome.

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