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ISSUE 120 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/6/2006

Chair promotes film

By Ryan Maus
Sports Editor

Friday, October 6, 2006

The number of people who witnessed the end of St. Olaf’s Communications Program eight years ago due to budget constraints are now dwindling, but the study of media appears to be making a comeback.

Last Thursday, English professor Diana Postlethwaite was announced as the college's fifth Boldt Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities.

She has decided to use her new position to further the college’s academic involvement in the areas of film studies and visual literacy.

Over the course of her three-year term, Postlethwaite expects to bring speakers on film to campus, lead faculty workshops, set up a student advisory committee, teach undergraduate courses on the subject and organize a number of other events pertaining to film and media studies.

"I’m hoping to further advance the conversation at St. Olaf about the future of academic programs in media and film studies," Postlethwaite said. "Many people here feel that a liberal arts college of the 21st century needs to pay close attention to film and media."

The Boldt Chair was established in 1994 by contractor Oscar C. Boldt and his wife, Patricia Hamar Boldt, and is offered as a three-year term to a senior professor in the humanities. The position is selected by the chairs of the various humanities departments and the Dean of Humanities.

"[The Boldt Chair] is supposed to be a mentor, leader and facilitator of communication within the humanities," Postlethwaite said. "Every Boldt Chair gets to define a theme, and I chose film because it struck me as such an interdisciplinary theme – every humanities department and many non-humanities departments use film in their curriculum."

Bill Sonnega, the current head of St. Olaf’s media studies department, supports Postlethwaite’s new initiative. Sonnega hopes to continue expanding his Media Studies offerings in the future, as the concentration is currently one of the most popular and fastest-growing on campus.

He sees Postlethwaite’s initiative as a step in the right direction.

"Diana is the right person at the right time to lead this," Sonnega said. "It’s no secret that there has been a demand from students for film for a long time, and I think this is an exciting chance for us to fulfill that want."

Postlethwaite sees the lack of a communications program as a problem in the curriculum.

"I think the loss of the communications program left a hole in our curriculum that hasn’t been entirely plugged by the media studies concentration," she said. "We now have the opportunity to assess how to fill in that hole."

Postlethwaite has wasted no time in putting her vision into practice. o Sunday in Viking Theater, students who participated in off-campus study programs in Australia offered their perceptions of the Australia depicted in the 1971 movie "Walkabout."

October will also see the beginning of a series entitled "Faculty Favorites," in which students will have the opportunity to view a faculty member’s favorite film and then participate in a group discussion of the film’s merits. New President David R. Anderson ’74 will be the first to offer his pick on Friday, Oct. 27, in Viking.

"President Anderson seems to be a great film enthusiast, and immediately knew what his choice would be," Postlethwaite said, without revealing Anderson’s pick. "I know he’ll pick something fun, and it could be the defining moment of his presidency," she said.

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