This is a collection of keywords that come up in my teaching. These notes are not meant to be exhaustive but hopefully my students will find them relevant to our course work and others are welcome to sample just as I have done in compiling them.
Film Genres – genres are different types or categories of films based on their content. Certain genres imply or cater to specific audiences, sometimes based around such broad categories as gender, race, or class. Some films also straddle multiple genres, combining different traditions and techniques as they tell their story. These might be called hybrid films or as an explosion of the traditional components of a genre.
immaterial labor – “defined as the labor that produces the informational and cultural content of the commodity”(Lazzarato) This involves two developments, increasingly digital modes of production and the inclusion of cultural consumption and critique as part of “labor.”
affective labor – “Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt have begun to develop this concept in their books Empire and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire.
In their recent work, Hardt and Negri focus on the role affective labor plays in the current mode of production (which can be referred to as “imperial,” “late capitalist,” or “postmodern”). In this passage from Multitude they briefly define their key terms:
“Unlike emotions, which are mental phenomena, affects refer equally to body and mind. In fact, affects, such as joy and sadness, reveal the present state of life in the entire organism, expressing a certain state of the body along with a certain mode of thinking. Affective labor, then, is labor that produces or manipulates affects…. One can recognize affective labor, for example, in the work of legal assistants, flight attendants, and fast food workers (service with a smile). One indication of the rising importance of affective labor, at least in the dominant countries, is the tendency for employers to highlight education, attitude, character, and “prosocial” behavior as the primary skills employees need. A worker with a good attitude and social skills is another way of saying a worker adept at affective labor””  (link)
tr.v. af·fect·ed, af·fect·ing, af·fects
1. To have an influence on or effect a change in: Inflation affects the buying power of the dollar.
2. To act on the emotions of; touch or move.
3. To attack or infect, as a disease: Rheumatic fever can affect the heart.
1. Feeling or emotion, especially as manifested by facial expression or body language: “The soldiers seen on television had been carefully chosen for blandness of affect” (Norman Mailer).
2. Obsolete A disposition, feeling, or tendency.
Diegesis is the continuous world of a story or narrative. It most commonly occurs as a concept in film theory related to sound. For instance, Diegetic sound is sound that occurs in the world of the film, e.g. a radio playing, or the sound of footstep; and Non-diegetic sound are sounds like a soundtrack or a voice over narration.
Alexander Galloway has applied this same distinction to the visual elements of video games in his book, “Gaming Essays on Algorithmic Culture.” In this application, menus and other such graphics occupy a non-diegetic plane superimposed over the diegetic space of the game world.
Culture – as Raymond Williams notes, “Culture in all its early uses was a noun of process: the tending of something, basically crops or animals.” source This root is clearly visible in the terms horticulture and agriculture. And this early meaning of cultivation turned into the cultivation of human development or culture.
Teleology – quoting wikipedia “Teleology (from the Greek τέλος – telos, root: τελε-, “end, purpose”) is the philosophical study of design and purpose. A teleological school of thought is one that holds all things to be designed for or directed toward a final result, that there is an inherent purpose or final cause for all that exists. The word teleology was first used by the German philosopher Christian Wolff in Philosophia rationalis, sive logica (1728).”
Pastiche – “a medley made up of fragments from different works,” 1878, from Fr. pastiche, from It. pasticcio “medley, pastry cake,” from V.L. *pasticium “composed of paste,” from L.L. pasta “paste, pastry cake” (see pasta). Borrowed earlier (1752) in the It. form. source As suggested by this etymology, a pastiche is also a literary or other work that draws from other sources.
Proscenium – “1606, “stage of an ancient theater,” from L. proscaenium, from Gk. proskenion “the space in front of the scenery,” also “entrance of a tent,” from pro “in front” + skene “stage, tent, booth.” Modern sense of “space between the curtain and the orchestra” is attested from 1807.” source
Mash-up – a mashup is a mixture of two or more things to produce a third thing. In software development it refers to applications that mix together data from various sources, in music it is the use of samples from existing songs to create an original mix. source
Self-reflexivity – is the process of considering one’s role in an event or production. For filmmakers it involves thinking about the effect of production techniques and practices on the actual event or people that are being filmed.
Nostalgia – a kind of longing for the past. Using our helpful online etymology dictionary we learn that in the 18th century it referred to a “severe homesickness” (considered as a disease),” comprised from the Greek “nostos” meaning “homecoming” and “algos” meaning “pain, grief, distress.” More recently, nostalgia has lost its medical and even psychological implications and has simply been accepted as a natural component of memory.
Kitsch – In writing what he terms “totalitarian kitsch,” in his 1984 novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” the czech author Milan Kundera writes “Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.”
The Fourth Wall – the implicit wall in a stage set that is absent so as to allow audiences to peer into the world of the film or play.
Cyberspace – “A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.” – William Gibson 1982 Neuromancer
Free Software – Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. (“Free as in freedom, not as in beer”) source
Open Source – the practice of leaving source code visible and potentially adaptable by anyone
Sampling – the process of converting a continuous real time signal into a discrete time signal.
Zeno’s paradox — a movement can become impossible if its distance is recurrently divided into smaller pieces
RSS – stands for “Rich Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication,” and maybe any number of other things. But in the world of blogging, it means a subscription to the site’s feed. In other words its a way of receiving updates whenever new content is posted on a feed to which you are subscribed. This way you can look at just one aggregator or reader and be up-to-date on a whole variety of content.
Podcasting – a form of RSS that contains audio, but can also refer to other media, including video. Perhaps stating the obvious, the term comes form the combination of Ipod and broadcasting.
Etymology is a helpful way of thinking about a word by considering it’s evolution through time. So in order to to better understand it, let’s look at two links. The first is the merriam webster dictionary definition of etymology. Here we see both it’s definition and that there is section dedicated to etymology for every entry. The second link comes from an online etymology dictionary. Here we just get the etymology, but from this we can learn even more it’s meaning. So hopefully you can use both these links and approaches to help understand a new word and/or give context and history to a word that you already know.
Middle English ethimologie, from Anglo-French, from Latin etymologia, from Greek, from etymon + -logia -logy
1 : the history of a linguistic form (as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language
2 : a branch of linguistics concerned with etymologies
— et·y·mo·log·i·cal \-mə-ˈlä-ji-kəl\ adjective
— et·y·mo·log·i·cal·ly \-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
1398, from Gk. etymologia, from etymon “true sense” (neut. of etymos “true,” related to eteos “true”) + logos “word.” In classical times, of meanings; later, of histories. Latinized by Cicero as veriloquium.