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Utrecht Centre for Television in Transition


Next session (November 5th, 2012): Constructing documentary authority in post-documentary times

In the november session, we will discuss an (preliminary) article by Vincent Crone and Floris Müller on the construction of authority in documentaries in a time where authority seems less and less evident. The article will also be presented during the International Conference on Journalism & Mass Communications next december. Please find the abstract below.

The time and location:
5 November 2o12,  Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06, 3.30 pm – 5.30 pm

Vincent C.A. Crone & Floris X. Müller
“Constructing documentary authority in post-documentary times. Articulating Authenticity, Artistry and Change”

“As the realist style is increasingly adopted in other (entertainment) formats, the powers of the documentary project to unequivocally represent ‘the truth’ about our society are waning. Yet documentary films continue to be made that apparently seek to suffuse the public sphere with narratives that promote a deeper objective understanding of complex social processes. Such projects now face potentially paralyzing criticisms of the documentary form as ‘just another opinion’ at best and a piece of political propaganda at worst. In this paper, we focus on the makers of documentaries on the controversial topics of immigration and integration and ask: What do film makers do discursively to circumvent these criticisms and regain the documentary authority that afforded the documentary film its unique prerogative to ‘claim the real’? Our analysis of 35 interviews suggests that the authority of the documentary project is supported by three conflicting discursive repertoires that deal respectively with the authenticity, artistry and social impact of the documentary. Differently positioned actors in the production process are able to construct the authenticity of the documentary film in their own preferred way. Furthermore, criticisms of the authority of the documentary voiced in one of these repertoires may be countered through the use of one of the other two.”

About the authors:
Vincent C.A. Crone is a member of TviT and Assistant Professor at Media and Culture Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University. Floris X. Müller is Research Associate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and works as Senior Researcher at FORUM, a Dutch institute for multicultural affairs.

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