In a recent episode of the Chalk Radio podcast, Prof. David Thorburn, who has spent his career challenging conventional assumptions about what kinds of works have artistic merit, speaks eloquently about why popular art forms like film and television belong in the classroom.
What would Shakespeare have made of today’s popular television shows? He might or might not like them, but he wouldn’t dismiss them simply because they’re popular. In this episode, Professor David Thorburn, who has spent his career challenging conventional assumptions about what kinds of works have artistic merit, speaks eloquently about why popular art forms like film and television belong in the classroom. He explains that in his course 21L.011 The Film Experience, which he has taught at MIT for over 35 years, he strives to reframe classic works for modern audiences—with “classic works” in this context meaning everything from Charlie Chaplin comedies to Technicolor musicals, Hitchcock thrillers, and Japanese samurai movies. Professor Thorburn hopes that his lectures, which are available in full on MIT OpenCourseWare, will help as many students as possible to know how to enjoy the movies more richly, regardless of their intended major. In passing, he talks about topics as various as the usefulness of lectures as an educational technique, the difficulty of imagining a world without iPads, the universality of “All in the Family,” and his admiration for Claude Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral.
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