Film criticism in the digital age

McWhirter, Andrew Christopher (2014) Film criticism in the digital age. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In a period of proposed crisis and disruptive transformation to media, journalism and criticism, this thesis provides a comprehensive analysis of English-language film criticism by offering an empirically-grounded study of observations and interviews with some of the world’s foremost film critics and editors from influential publications such as Cineaste, CinemaScope, IndieWIRE, The Guardian, Reverse Shot, Sight and Sound and Variety. These expert opinions are not only situated in the wider context of historical perspectives on criticism from ancient and modern origins, but also positioned against on-going debates into journalism and digital media which often denote a landscape characterised by both continuity and contestation.

The findings are drawn from extensive fieldwork in the UK and North America taking place at two major international film festivals in Edinburgh and Toronto, supplemented with additional interviews with film critics from each of these regions. This thesis relies upon a great deal of published literature, from text books and media coverage to film criticism. These materials detail a crisis in criticism and in the culture at large, a prehistory of existing media, concepts around literary and arts criticism in general, and provide the means for a detailed model on Six Schools of Contemporary Film Criticism to be posited. A combination of desk research with participant observation and in-depth interviews has led to and strengthened the overall findings which conclude that film criticism in the contemporary digital age is defined by more continuity than disruptive transformation.

While this prosaic – but not myopic – approach to film criticism highlights the habits and norms of film critics it also notes the significant changes taking place through the interactions of individuals and institutions with technologies. However, while transformations are acknowledged and new events specified – indeed the theme of change gives shape to the findings chapters in terms of a chronology of the new, newer and newest – in print, then online and subsequently towards convergent media forms – it is argued that the long view best serves to counteract hyperbolic discourses on film criticism as dead or inhabiting a new golden age. These empirical findings, in the face of transformative digital idealism, redress the balance and argue the case for evolution rather than the often mooted digital revolution.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Film criticism, crisis, journalism, The Web, networked media, social media, democratizing opinion, gatekeepers.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Archibald , Dr. David and Boyle , Professor Raymond
Date of Award: 2014
Embargo Date: 12 May 2021
Depositing User: Dr Andrew McWhirter
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5165
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2014 11:35
Last Modified: 12 May 2020 09:08

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