Chapter 5


Lastra, “What Cinema Is.”




Ibid. The example of the cell phone, which we discussed above, appears illuminating on the level of repeated changes to a medium’s identity. If one wishes to preserve at all cost the telephone’s specific identity (a telephone is, first and foremost, a . . . telephone!), one runs the risk of neglecting the new identity it has acquired in the course of its transformation into a data terminal and of depriving oneself of its texting and Internet functions in particular.


In its genealogy and in its history, one should perhaps say, but this is pointless in the sense that, for us, a medium’s genealogy is in a state of constant transformation. This is why its identity as a medium is never definitively fixed.


See André Gaudreault and Philippe Marion, The Kinematic Turn: Film in the Digital Era and Its Ten Problems, trans. Timothy Barnard (2012).


Note that the same university offers a master’s program, established in the 1990s (one had to come before the other), with the more prosaic name “Master of Arts in Film Studies.” The two programs, which coexist within the same department, draw on the same team of professors and pursue the same teaching and research goals; only their level of study is different.


This is the case of the famous School of Cinema-Television at USC (University of Southern California), now rebaptized the “USC School of Cinematic Arts.”

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Note also the (aborted) attempt by those in charge of cinema studies at the University of Toronto to call their new doctoral program (2013) “Ph.D. in Cinematic Media.” The project as described was not approved and the program is thus offered under the more prudent, traditional and “safer” title “Ph.D. in Cinema Studies” (see The concept of “cinematic media” was nevertheless not completely abandoned; it can be found in the first sentence of the program description: “The Ph.D. Program in Cinema Studies fosters a deepened understanding of the complex and interconnected histories of cinema and related media and the challenges that rapidly changing cultural production may present to theorizing the role and nature of cinematic media”), as well as in the names of certain courses (“History and Historiography of Cinematic Media” and “Pressures on the Cinematic”). The summary of this latter course is worth quoting here:

This course examines the multiple factors that are shaping the field of cinema studies, especially as pressures exerted on our conception of what constitutes “cinema” are reflected in current scholarly debates. Rapid changes to technology, shifts in delivery systems, diverse spectatorial responses to and uses of cinema, globalization and industrial consolidation – all of these forces work to alter both the nature of cinema as a medium and its social and cultural functions. This course will study how cinema’s protean nature remains a central issue in debates about medium specificity, the role of digitalization, and different viewing communities, among other topics (

We will return in chapter 6 of The End of Cinema? to the question of the names of university programs.

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