Information Literacy in Film

'Reels from the Past.' photo (c) 2008, Ryan Baxter - license:
I randomly found a great article today while searching for scholarly articles on a career in cinematography (student research paper). The article, Exploring the Political Dimensions of Information Literacy through Popular Film, is written by Robert Detmering and published in portal: Libraries and the Academy. In the article, Detmering screens three films with a keen eye towards the cultural and specifically political portrayal of information literacy. The three films discussed are: Jason Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking (2006), Joel and Ethan Coen’s Burn after Reading (2008), and Oliver Stone’s W. (2008). The article was written in 2010.
I love film and my professional life is all about information literacy. So when I saw the title in my list of search results I had to read it. Detmering writes, “The use of popular films in this manner [classroom conversations around literary narratives] may be most appropriate for semester-long information literacy courses…” and as I read that sentence I thought, “What a great idea for a GER course!”

Not too long ago theology and film courses were quite popular, a la Screening Theology. While that syllabus represents graduate level work, many of these courses were aimed towards undergraduates hoping to encourage more meaningful discussions of theology, life, society, and culture. Theology courses aren’t usually pursued by non-religious studies majors, much like most students don’t seek out information literacy courses. But a course where you get to watch movies every week? A lot more students would be into that.

So why not? An 8 week or even 16 week Screening Information Literacy course could encourage students to move beyond gathering information sources for a course bibliography to connecting the dots between information literacy skills, critical thinking and decision making skills.

A couple of years ago I blogged about another info lit and film article that dealt solely with The Big Lebowski. So I have a short list of four films to include in this course. Can you suggest any others?


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