It's all for naught : avant-garde cinema, regional history, and the South

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Malin, Sean Lowel

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At the margins of cinema history are films that defy traditional strategies of production, narrative, and aesthetics. These "experimental" works are the subjects of their own histories concomitant to those in "mainstream" film studies. Media scholarship by the likes of David James and P. Adams Sitney has attempted to implement the avant-garde into wider filmmaking narratives. But histories and critical studies alike widely marginalize experimental works made outside of expected cosmopolitan centers, particularly when fringe films and their makers hail from the American South. This project argues that the near-elimination of the region's avant-gardists from media history prevents works of cultural import from disseminating into the national narrative. Through an interdisciplinary study of local experimental communities, with direct focus on New Orleans, it also contends that recovering these works is essential to more inclusive and thus emancipatory regional media narratives. The thesis concludes with an original taxonomy of archives and interviews for future critical Southern media scholarship.



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