Editor’s Introduction to Issue No. 7

Rare among undergraduate film and media programs, Screen Culture is something special and important to preserve: the opportunity for students to share their critical research with others, and the chance for faculty to show off how rigorous and insightful those students’ work can be.

The essays featured in this year’s issue were written between 2021 and 2023, and you’ll immediately notice a trend among them. Our students are questioning some of the systemic biases within the film industry, exploring histories that are taken for granted, and demonstrating how film and media can help us think through issues of racial and social justice. This issue begins with the winners and runners-up of our 2022 and 2023 writing awards. Sarah Almi describes how Jordan Peele’s films tap into Afro-pessimism, part of what makes Black-led horror movies so unsettling. Katie Reid presents her archival research into the how Alfred Hitchcock worked with, and at times skirted, Hollywood censors for his 1948 film Rope. Jazzlyn Cotton’s extensive essay on Disney live-action remakes demonstrates how cultural sensitivity and authenticity can sometimes be tricky issues to balance. Justin Macy explores how Brian De Palma’s films push against presumed cultural norms. Two new submissions by Ana Gjorgjevski and Brian Walczybock look at New Queer Cinema from the 1990s and postcolonial approaches to teaching Disney’s Pocahontas, respectively.

Beginning with the last issue, we decided to expand the scope of Screen Culture to include critical multimedia pieces, also called videographic criticism or video essays. This kind of work is increasingly being done by our students as they learn to marry their post-production skills with critical thinking, and it’s increasingly common across the humanities. This year’s issue again features some of our incredible student work on this front. James Navarre’s video exploring unreliable narrators in American Psycho and Rashomon was the winner of the 2023 video essay award. It is joined here by Jay Bermudez’s video essay on colorism, which won the 2022 prize. Also featured here are two new entries by Morgan Southward, who examines themes of power and privilege in Knives Out, and Tayion Williams, whose work analyzes mother-daughter relations in Lady Bird. We are delighted to formally include these video essays as part of Screen Culture.

I want to congratulate all the students whose work is featured in this issue. Thanks goes to Clover Vassilev, a graduate student in English who served as this year’s proofreader. Finally, I extend a special thank you to you, our reader, for continuing to give our students a place to share their thoughts. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this issue as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Bridget Kies
Faculty Advisor and Editor