A Brief List of Film Journals Acceptable for English 105
Because the study of film has only become an academic discipline in the last several decades, journals which adhered to this course's standards of "specialized knowledge" also only recently have come into being when compared to the long history of such publications in the sciences, English, history, etc. Much of what students will encounter in writing about film will be the work of professional writers who may have an interest in the success of the films they review, enthusiastic but poorly trained amateurs who use the Internet to showcase their obsessions, and the merely informational sites and texts, which do not take analytical positions and show no awareness of the theory and method of film analysis. I'll build this section slowly, but for now, students should treat any secondary source about film with extraordinary care. Your most likely source of important articles specifically about film (vs. historical context, economics, political issues, etc.) would be those indexed in JSTOR's "Film Studies" database. Starting there would give you the advantage that you could keep all or some of the same search terms and add new databases in other fields, like History or Political Science, without having to change search engines.
At the time of this writing, JSTOR has expanded its indexing of film journals in its "Film Studies" database from the initial three, in 2010, to thirteen journals. All of the currently published journals offer "Links to Recent Content" that will give you articles published as recently as last year. For this project, that set of resources is likely to be your best source for topics specifically related to films. The journals indexed by JSTOR under "Performing Arts" include several that would cover topics related to acting, dialog, costume, stage settings, and drama. The MLA Bibliography (via the Ebsco search engine) also will cover articles related to film as a cultural artifact.
Keep in mind that the Goucher Library Main Collection contains a number of book-length studies and essay collections which you can be assured are scholarly, and you should not stoop to trolling the 'net before you have at least reviewed them. Remember, the "convenient" source is the enemy of the best source. The web-based journal's one advantage over its print-based cousins is the ability to reproduce full-color on-set photographs and actual frames from movies being discussed, and in some instances, video clips of whole scenes can be played to support the argument in the article. In this instance, alone, the web-based journal, if properly peer-reviewed, is superior to the print-based journal. However, you also can photocopy or scan still photographs from printed articles or books to use in your paper. Think creatively and your paper will improve.
Sight and Sound: The British Film Institute's journal of scholarship on the cinema. This journal is not available online, and in this business, that's a virtual guarantee that it's got scholarly potential. It's peer reviewed by internationally known scholars, and its articles follow standard scholarly methods grounded in current theory. It's available at: 791.43 S575. The Institute also sponsors book-length publication. Several of those works are in the library's collection.
Screening the Past: Latrobe University's online, peer-reviewed journal of film analysis and film history. This is as near a free, online, scholarly source for film studies as you are likely to find.
Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media: an online journal that lists an impressive set of editors and advisory board members and which is apparently dedicated to scholarly methods arising from theory. Unfortunately, since this was added to the list in 2000, it has been taken over by Wayne State University Press and only a limited number of articles in the "Archives" section now are available for free. However, those are not without interest to the scholar working on Casablanca and The Third Man. See for instance Drake Stutesman: '"Gives Good Face": Mr John and the Power of Hats in Film' You will note that in both films, characters are wearing hats, and the hat was as powerful a signifier in the 1940s as the black or white cowboy hat, baseball cap, headband or handkerchief, "do-rag," or multi-color dyed hair of the current era. Learn to "read hats" and you could tell us something about one or both movies. Several other articles that could stimulate good papers on these films can be found at the Archive portion of this site.
Senses of the Cinema: an Australian-based journal which sometimes approaches an academic journal in its submission policies and attitude toward its mission. Look at the structure of the articles and the way their authors address their readers for evidence that they may be relied upon for this course. In 2000, when it originally was added to this list, its notes to Contributors said that SotC is "not a fully refereed film journal [ . . . ] , it provides writers with the option to have their work refereed. Articles are sent as 'blind reviews' to a minimum of two referees who are experts in their field." The reviewers were lecturers in serious film studies programs so the quality was more reliable than the articles in a journal which only relied on its editors' tastes for standards of quality. However, by January 2003 (when I amended this entry), they had altered their mission statement and editorial practices. They now publish some peer-reviewed articles, but their statement of purpose now says they publish "articles of all styles (casual, personal, academic, critical, impressionistic and poetic - or a combination of these), analytical approaches (thematic, psychoanalytic, etc) and subject matter. The only criteria that we prescribe are that all articles are demonstrably passionate, serious, intelligent and insightful reflections and/or analyses on the topic of cinema" (from the "Editorial" page). If you click on the "Notes to Contributors" button, you will discover this about their editorial practices: "Senses of Cinema is not a fully refereed film journal. However, it provides writers with the option of having their work refereed. Articles are sent as 'blind reviews' to a minimum of two referees who are experts in their field. Senses of Cinema is listed on the Register of Refereed Journals maintained by the Department of Education, Science and Training, Australia." This new statement reflects some of the deep divisions that have arisen among scholars about the limits of the academic peer review process, and about the creation of intellectual property that is relevant to knowing this topic. You will have to test each article you consider using, asking yourself whether the author has followed sufficiently the practices necessary "to tell the truth" as we understand that definition of academic scholarship. Use with caution.
Bright Lights Film Journal: a print journal that migrated to the Web, Bright Lights is an ambiguous mixture of scholarly and popular-scholarly analysis of film. They don't often cite sources as a scholar would, but they are careful about method. Unfortunately, their bias against typical academic jargon, adopted to pursue popular audience success, prevents them from using words and strategies which might be productive. Use with caution.
Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture: a popular Internet-based journal which, nevertheless, publishes articles which can have academic merit because of the level of analytical focus they demand (vs. mere description or praise) and their emphasis on justifying all claims by reference to hard evidence drawn from the work (still photos, script dialogue or shooting instructions, etc.). However, they are not peer-reviewed, and they have no force higher than the commercial marketplace of the 'net to make them pay scrupulous attention to the truth. Use with caution.