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September 22

Eyes Upside Down, An Illustrated Lecture by P. Adams Sitney

Recognized as the foremost authority on American avant-garde cinema, P. Adams Sitney (1944- ) has exerted a profound influence on film studies through his perceptive and prolific writings—crowned by his magnum opus, Visionary Film (1974)— and more than 20 years teaching at Princeton University. Sitney’s abiding interest in experimental film can be traced back to Filmwise, the journal which he founded when he was only 16 years old and whose in-depth interviews with emergent artists like Stan Brakhage and Owen Land (Sitney’s childhood friend), as well as veteran filmmakers such as Jean Cocteau and Willard Maas, launched his unique and intimate association with the postwar avant-garde. In 1970 Sitney joined forces with filmmakers Jerome Hill, Peter Kubelka, Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas to found Anthology Film Archives.

Equally versed in literature and poetry as film, Sitney wrote the majority of Visionary Film as his dissertation in Yale’s Literary Studies Department, with Paul de Mann as his advisor. Sitney’s literary training informs Visionary Film’s ground-breaking —and controversial— exploration of the American avant-garde’s relationship to literary Romanticism. Marrying an ambitiously encyclopedic survey of experimental cinema with meticulous readings of individual film texts, Visionary Film simultaneously defined a new field of study and offered its primary text. Sitney’s subsequent writings include Modernist Montage: The Obscurity of Vision in Cinema and Literature (1990) and Vital Crises in Italian Cinema (1995).

Special Event Tickets $10
Monday September 22 at 7pm

p. adams sitneySitney’s latest work, Eyes Upside Down: Visionary Filmmakers and the Heritage of Emerson is a fascinating study of the poetic and philosophical roots of the postwar American avant-garde that examines the centrality and underappreciated influence of Emersonian poetics in the work of key American experimental filmmakers. The Harvard Film Archive is proud to welcome P. Adams Sitney for an illustrated lecture that draws from Eyes Upside Down and integrates screenings and discussion of the following films:

Arabesque for Kenneth Anger

Directed by Marie Menken.
US 1961, 16mm, color, 4 min.
Print from the Filmmakers Coop

Visions in Meditation #1

Directed by Stan Brakhage
US 1989, 16mm, color, silent, 16 min.
Print from the Filmmakers Coop


Directed by Ernie Gehr
US 1972-74, 16mm, color, 9 min.
Print from Canyon Cinema

Gently Down the Stream

Directed by Su Friedrich
US 1981, 16mm, b/w, silent, 13 min.
Print from Canyon Cinema


Directed by Hollis Frampton
US 1979, 16mm, color, 10 min.
Print from the Filmmakers Coop

Apparatus Sum (Studies for Magellan #1)

Directed by Hollis Frampton
US 1972, 16mm, color, silent, 3 min.
Print from the Filmmakers Coop






 Listen to this evening's introduction, lecture and Q&A.

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