Approaches to creative actuality: Documentary pedagogy in the contemporary university environment

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Whether working with undergraduate students of documentary as filmmakers, media historians and/or archivists; supervising postgraduate researchers who are analysing and producing documentaries with the purpose of social investigation and transformation; or including a range of students in staff-led documentary projects with high impact as research, documentary within the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA) has a central place within the curriculum and as an option for inquiry and practice. Bill Nichols contends that “documentary flourishes when it gains a voice of its own, when it speaks to us about the world we share”.[1] Taking this notion of the vocal and the dialogic in a shared cultural context, we offer a reflective piece that will explain the comprehensive approach we currently utilize in documentary pedagogy at UEA. The Covid-19 pandemic challenged our models of active learning and authentic assessment, but the adaptation of our practice succeeded in retaining the core principles of our documentary pedagogy. This enabled one of the classic definitions of documentary form—namely, that it is the “creative treatment of actuality” —to be fulfilled as a creative response to actuality in a year rich in adaptability and attainment.[2
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cinema and Media Studies
Issue numberSummer
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2022

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