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AIAS Guest Lecture: Grasping Complexity with the Video Essay

Lecture by Catherine Grant, Honorary Professor, School for Communication and Culture, Aarhus University.

Info about event


Friday 10 November 2023,  at 14:00 - 17:15


AIAS Auditorium and Zoom


14:00-14:15   Coffee and cake

45   Lecture by Prof. Catherine Grant (in-person and Zoom)

15:45-16:15   Reception with drinks and snacks

16:15-17:15   Screening.
Selection of exemplary videoessays from various disciplines, introduced by Alan O’Leary and Catherine Grant

Online participation
Join the lecture at 14:15 via https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/j/68502744224

Lecture Details

Catherine Grant, Honorary Professor, Institute for Communication and Culture, Aarhus University.
Introduced and chaired by Alan O’Leary, AIAS Associate Fellow

It is possible to attend the lecture in-person and via Zoom. A Zoom link will be available at this page prior to the lecture. 

Title: Grasping Complexity with the Video Essay: On Making ‘The Haunting of the Headless Woman


The video essay has become a key means and medium of investigation in screen studies, and the innovations in this field offer a model, perhaps, for how other disciplines can adopt and deploy the form. But making video essays can often feel as much of a mysterious process as a scholarly or critical one. Weird things happen in the process of editing together sequences from films, television and audiovisual media; curious coincidences, felicitous discoveries, and striking disclosures can take place because of the technical affordances of the editing platforms we use, or because of the formal or aesthetic devices, dispositifs (apparatuses), or audiovisual interfaces we construct. If we can remain open to these kinds of revelations, and use them as the basis of our analyses, they can enrich the resulting scholarly and critical work. But in this lecture, I go further, to suggest that videographic methods can be used—and experiments and forms designed— purposefully to solve audiovisual enigmas, and to decipher encoded elements in films and moving images. The lecture uses as a case study my own ‘The Haunting of The Headless Woman’ (2019), nominated one of the top video essays of the year in the annual Sight & Sound poll, a study of intertextuality in the essential Argentine film The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008) and its rich relations to other films. I will argue that the time-based and spatial procedures like those employed in my video essay are powerful means to grasp the specificity and complexity of audiovisual intertextuality. This capacity to grasp complexity is an expression of how the video essay merges affective and analytical power in the service of scholarly analysis. 


Catherine Grant is one of the world’s foremost and most influential video makers. She is Honorary Professor at Aarhus Universitet (2022-2025) and Visiting Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London (2020-2023), where she worked as Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies until 2020, and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the University of Reading. As a researcher and critic, she mostly makes and reflects on audiovisual essays about screen media studies. She is founding author of the Open Access website Film Studies For Free (and its social media accounts) as well as several other scholarly research platforms. In 2020, she was elected member of Academia Europaea’s Film, Media and Visual Studies section in recognition of her research.


The event is organised by AIAS in association with the Institute of Communication and Culture, the Cultural Transformations research programme, and the Filmmaking Research, Academic Film and Videographic Criticism research unit.


Everyone interested is welcome to join the lecture, but registration is required here


Alan O’Leary, AIAS Associate Fellow, Aarhus University