Erich Fields, Contributing Writer
Despite its major impact on culture “outside the Bubble,” film has never been at the forefront of education at the University of Dallas. However, one man has made it his mission to promote the study of this art form at the university. Dr. Scott Churchill has been teaching film classes (both one and three credit elective psychology courses) for 28 years, hoping to convey to both students and faculty not only a sense of the artistic value of film, but also a sense of its relevance to the human experience.
“Film is the revealing of how the world of experience becomes manifest in a particular person’s frame of reference,” said Churchill, “It is very good at putting us into that character. It is a perceptual rather than cognitive experience.”
This semester, Churchill is teaching a class entitled “Cutting Edge Films of the ’60s and ’70s,” which he intends not only as an exploration of the technique and plots commonly used in films at the time, but as a “reflective review, [one that situates] them in a sociohistorical context.” The films of this period provide insight into a very unique time in American history, a time where everything was being overturned and examined, and where filmmakers had the opportunity to flourish and create their art.
“What is interesting for me is the dialectic between a work of art and the society which contextualizes it and is changed by it,” Churchill said.
The class meets on Thursday nights in Lynch Auditorium for a two-hour lecture by Churchill followed by what he affectionately calls his “lab” – the watching of a film. Students are expected to write a journal about the films they have watched, in which they place them in dialogue with the texts, lectures and previous films shown in the class.
Senior Cory Boyd said that this system is more personalized for the student.
“[The professor can really] trace the direction of an individual student’s learning process,” Boyd said. “It is not formulaic.”
However, as important as the academic aspect of the class is, Churchill values the diversion to be had in watching a movie far more. His vision for the film classes is for the screenings to be a resource for the whole campus.
On Oct. 24, the class viewed Apocalypse Now (Francis Coppola’s Vietnam adaptation of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness), and Lynch Auditorium was packed.
“It’s really a pleasure to have a full house for these screenings,” Churchill said. “It renewed my faith that students will go to movies for the fun of it.”
The screenings are open to all on Thursday nights at 8p.m. and Friday nights at 7p.m.