Paul A McEwan
Professor, Media & Communication
I teach courses in both film studies and in production because I believe strongly that arts education needs to make the links between theory and practice explicit. Not only because we learn from successful artists and creators, but because we can understand the blind spots of the past and commit ourselves to new forms.
Media makers have a tremendous responsibility to themselves and to the public. The images they create help to shape our sense of who we are, of our reality and our sense of possibilities. I want to help students create works that are thoughtfully engaged with their culture and be able to respond to their society throughout their artistic and professional lives.
At Muhlenberg, I'm fortunate to be able to teach a wide range of courses including film history, Indian popular cinema, the French New Wave, screenwriting, video production, and popular music. I have also traveled extensively with students, shooting videos for local rappers in Senegal, attending film festivals in Italy and supervising study abroad programs in Ireland.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
The primary focus of my research for the past few years has been the legacy of D.W. Griffith's 1915 racist epic The Birth of a Nation. I'm working on a forthcoming book that traces the ways in which film culture has been shaped over the past hundred years by having this ugly object as one of its earliest developmental milestones. I trace arguments in museums, in film clubs, in newspapers and in universities about how we can best understand this film and its legacies. I've written a book on this film already in the BFI Classics series (2015) that was primarily a close reading enriched by archival sources, and other articles on some of its censorship controversies.
My other primary interests are Canadian cinema and popular music, which I was able to combine in a 2011 book on the film Hard Core Logo, a 1996 mock-documentary about a punk band on a last-chance tour of Western Canada. The book explores the intertwined legacies of punk and masculinity and the relationships between art and geography in Canada.
Outside of formal research, I spend as much time as possible painting, playing music and taking photographs.
A music video shot by Muhlenberg students and professors in Dakar, Senegal in 2016 can be seen here.