Bibliographies and Books

Friends on mine on facebook were bitching about bibliographies on video essays; how some of them would be unacceptable even in a first year undergraduate essay, etc. Now, aside from noting that bibliographies might not be the best criteria via which to evaluate video essays, I just wanted to draw attention to the following: I’ve been ordering a lot of books on Burt Lancaster, my current hobby, and I just wanted to point to this full-length book, from a reputable publisher in 1991:

The whole book reads like a series of quickly thrown together blogposts by someone who has read a few interviews, a couple of bios, doesn´t look at the films too closely, offers summaries — some short, some extended; I imagine in relation to what was then available to view — and a judgment with no analysis.

Now, one doesn’t want to be ahistorical. There was no internet then. Information was hard to come by. I read these books avidly as a teenager. As Sheldon Hall has rightly pointed out: ‘This kind of ‘biography’ was pretty much the standard of ‘trade’ film books in the 1970s and 1980s’.

But it is sometimes worth reminding ourselves that first year undergraduate essays sometimes offer more real insight and more reliable information than many books by writers up to 1991 who were paid and who often thanked their research assistants in the acknowledgment sections, and that such inadequate and unsatisfying work was put into the world by reputable publishers, often with fanfare.

We’ve come a long way baby.


José Arroyo

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