ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER VI | SYMPOSIUM FOR CONTEMPORARY ANIMATION STUDIES | ANIMAFEST SCANNER VI - PANEL 1: ANIMATION AND HISTORY
KEYNOTE: Reflections on Animation History/Histories...and Historiography: Where Are We Now? - Jayne Pilling
Teaching animation history in widely differing geographical/cultural contexts, prompts this series of reflections and questions. How best to study and teach it? What is it exactly – or what should it be? What use is it? Do generational as well as cultural gaps come into play? In a field where teaching materials seem largely dominated by Englishlanguage publications, and the concerns of western academia, how to ensure consideration for other intellectual and cultural traditions, which might chart animation history/histories differently, and stimulate new thinking and debate? If animation historiography exists, are there useful models, and where would they sit within animation studies?
The USA and Japan, as the most globally successful producers of animation, have, inevitably, generated the most scholarly attention, although recent years have seen more histories of animation in other countries and regions, alongside monographic studies of individual filmmakers. We should consider the reasons for this, and how it may affect the existing literature on ‘animation history’.
Yet amidst the proliferation of theoretical approaches and diverse disciplines animation studies draws upon – where does – or should? - the resultant academic specialisation make room for animation history/histories? Is there a consensus on what should constitute animation history or histories? Is it time to question the established ‘canon’ of animation films taught at university survey courses? What influences such canon formation, and who decides? Why does there seem relatively little debate on this topic? What are the pros and cons of the two most wide-spread approaches: timeline and national geography (which may itself be subject to change through history)?
And how much knowledge of global or national history is necessary to an understanding of animation history itself? How can connections be made across histories, tracing relationships between mainstream/commercial and other kinds of animation, if a foundational knowledge is lacking, which may impede further more sustained and detailed exploration and analysis?
Jayne Pilling spends much of her time exploring, and aspiring to share a passion for, animation: via publications (incl. Animating the Unconscious: Desire & Sexuality in Animation, Animation: 2D & Beyond; A Reader in Animation Studies; Cartoons & the Movies; Women & Animation: A Compendium; That’s Not All Folks: A Primer in Cartoonal Knowledge), curating programmes and events, teaching, DVD publishing, and TV programmes.