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Issues in Contemporary Documentary

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4009-9
244 pages
August 2009, Polity
Issues in Contemporary Documentary (0745640095) cover image
Documentary is fast changing: with the digital revolution and the enormous increase in Internet usage, the range of information and outlets for distribution continues to become more diverse. In this context, are the traditional themes and frequently irreconcilable critical positions of study still valid – or are they changing, and if so, how? In short, what are the issues for documentary studies now?

The starting point of Issues in Contemporary Documentary is that although documentary history cannot be ignored, the genre needs to be understood as complex, multi-faceted, and influenced by a range of different contexts. Jane Chapman brings to life the challenges of contemporary documentary in an accessible way by balancing theoretical discussion with use of cutting edge material from Europe and North America and the developing world.

Whilst the need for critical appraisal of documentary is greater than ever before, Chapman believes that future discourses are likely to be shared between academics and specialist online communities as viewers become makers, and both categories may also become activists. Maintaining all parties can benefit from an awareness of continuity and change, she predicts that activist documentary will increasingly become a category to follow in the future.

Each chapter contains recent international case studies, and the content evolves thematically with definitions, representation, objectivity, subjectivity, censorship, authorial voice, reflexivity, and ethics as headings. This free standing, innovative study can also be used in conjunction with Documentary in Practice (Polity 2007) by the same author. The two books provide an essential 2 volume introduction for all students and scholars of film and media, plus those practitioners seeking insight into their craft.
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Introduction
1. Definitions - Issues and Influences.
2. Representation - Problems, Purpose
3. Objectivity/Subjectivity - Pursuing truth?
4. Censorship - whose world is it?
5. Authorial Voice - means of expression
6. Reflexivity - techniques and reflection
7. Audience - a world view or viewing the world?
8. Ethics - shifting boundaries
Conclusions: continuities and change
Bibliography
Filmography
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Jane Chapman is Reader in Journalism Studies at the University of Lincoln.
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  • A balanced introduction to the study of documentary in contemporary times
  • Introduces key concepts in documentary studies – representation, audience, objectivity, ethics etc – and considers whether they hold up in an age of digitization and globalization
  • Packed with examples from recent films and filmmakers
  • Accessibly written and with a balance between theoretical and conceptual material and case study material
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    "Brings the study of documentary up-to-date through a range of contemporary examples, which is particularly useful for journalism students who are interested in documentary practice, whilst offering historians of film and television an important contextual resource for understanding issues in documentary today."
    Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

    "Broad-ranging ... This book is undoubtedly recommended as an undergraduate textbooked, evidenced by its lucid exposition and easily accessible and clearly presented case studies; however, it nonetheless offers a useful account and summary of the key debates that surround and inform the terrain of the contemporary documentary."
    Times Higher Education

    "Jane Chapman's book offers students a clear introduction to some of the main questions and debates surrounding current documentary practice. Not only is the whole book developed around selected examples, it is informed throughout by the ethical, creative, and technological challenges of actually making films and programmes. Its strongly 'insider' viewpoint usefully complements the 'outsider' framings of most film and television studies."
    John Corner, University of Liverpool

    "In a clear, comprehensive style, Jane Chapman has vividly laid out the key issues in documentary. With attention to historical trends and theoretical debates this book will be of enormous use to scholars and practitioners of documentary. This book should find a wide audience among students and viewers of documentary."
    Paula Rabinowitz, University of Minnesota

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