Slil - Online Journal for History, Film and Television

In 1921, in the midst of the crises that shattered the intellectual, political, cultural and social structures of modernity, the German film magazine Der Kinematograph announced the break of a new era in historiography. “Whether we like it or not,” wrote the magazine, contemporary historians can no longer ignore film: “from the historian’s perspective, film is an essential document.” This conclusion, not exceptional in the writings of contemporaneous cultural critics, was only slowly and hesitantly adopted by historians. It was almost sixty years later when the prominent French scholar Marc Ferro indicated that film, documentary and fiction alike, is history.

Today, the importance of the use of audio-visual sources by historians can hardly be disputed; only a few scholars would deny the ability of such sources to enrich their studies and to widen our understanding of the past and how it has been experienced. Slil: Online Journal for History, Film and Television seeks to explore the various ways in which audio-visual materials can be used in order to learn about modern social and cultural phenomena, such as the perceptions of identity and ‘collective’ memories; the formation of ideologies; the roles and boundaries of propaganda; and the presence of subversive and subordinated voices in the public discourse. We believe that film, television, and other visual media should be analyzed by historians in methodological and systematic ways, which would be informed by the latest theoretical considerations in the fields of film studies and cultural studies.

In addition, we believe that the historian should approach audio-visual texts within various socio-cultural contexts - including the institutional history of cinema/television, technological developments, and reception - as well as political and ideological contexts in which films were produced and consumed. The articles in Slil demonstrate and discuss several analytical approaches in a way that indicates their benefits and their limits. As an online journal, it encourages the quick distribution of critical commentaries and an ongoing discussion of the published article.

Slil is an academic, peer-reviewed journal in Hebrew, which aims to enables graduate students and young scholars to publish their studies and to enhance them through the comments of the readers. The journal site is sponsored by the Koebner-Minerva Center for German History and by the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and operates in cooperation with the Jerusalem Cinematheque. In addition to research articles, it offers various tools for the study and the teaching of films in history classes, such as links to film archives and online databases; relevant syllabi of courses taught by Israeli university lecturers; and reviews of new films and pertinent books.

The editors of this journal believe that a worthwhile discussion cannot be limited to academic professionals, detached from the general public. We therefore seek to reach out to a wider readership with the hope to contribute to a rich and knowledgeable public discourse. Within this framework, we have organized a series of open lectures, given by university teachers of history and media, as well as special screenings and open discussions. Alongside of these activities, we also publish review articles of a less rigid nature, which discuss issues in film criticism and teaching.

We are thankful for our contributors and our sponsors. We are especially indebted to Prof. Moshe Zimmermann of the History Department at the Hebrew University, for his advice and ongoing support of our endeavor.

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