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Description of Griffith in Context

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General Information: Description of Griffith in Context


The CD-ROM "Griffith IN CONTEXT" delivers the film and contextualizing corollary materials in an interactive format that makes the film's cultural and cinematic impact tangible. "Griffith IN CONTEXT" breaks away from similar film studies CD-ROMs in its use of a "filmstrip" interface that enables frame-by-frame textual analysis in relation to four intertwined indices of analysis. The CD-ROM will encourage students to draw connections between diverse materials including interviews with historians and film scholars, film clips, historical documents, timelines, portions of Thomas Dixon's novel The Clansman, and archival materials related to the production of the original novel and the film. The multimedia format will also be utilized to teach basic editing and "scene-building" principles by allowing students to dissect and reorganize clips from the film.


The Birth of a Nation is an entry point into a locus of entangled issues related to national identity, race, regionalism, and culture. The national debates the film prompted around race, censorship, and the role of film provide a unique window into an era and a model for understanding how cultural ideologies are negotiated within a national arena. Within such a discussion, neither the film's technical mastery nor its troubling politics take precedence. Instead the two are seen as inseparable; such debates never would have been triggered by the film had it not been both politically incendiary in its portrait of history and race and brilliant in its use of film's narrative and technical potential.

We expect that the CDrom's presentation of some of the finer points regarding the film may be multifaceted, even conflicted, as different scholars present their visions of the film and its ideological mechanics. However, it is our hope that scholars presenting voice-overs will be in agreement with the our basic philosophy on the film, as stated in the above paragraph.

For additional information, consult the Griffith in Context Website.

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  • Ellen Strain last edited on 11 February 2000 at 6:26 pm by