Issues in Contemporary Documentary
August 2009, Polity
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.
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
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