128T | CCN: 77911

Rhetoric and Politics of Interviews

Instructor: Trinh T. Minh-ha,

W 2-5P, 109 DWINELLE

4 Units

As a common form of interacting, documenting and informing, the interview plays a central role in the process of social and cultural inquiry. The interviewer often engages in dialogues with selected witnesses to seek information for an argument or to carry forward a course of reasoning. In the processes of researching, negotiating, inscribing and showing, interaction with the subjects of inquiry often revolves around postures of objectivity and of neutrality. The interview is here not only studied in its popularized use as a form of oral witnessing and of privileged access to personalities. It is also explored in its critical and potentially creative dimensions as part of a mise en scène or a setting in which interviewer and interviewees function as social actors. Here, information and truth provide the structuring presence through which questions of power and subject, or of testimony, authentication and legitimization are raised. Focusing on the framing process while engaging in critical debates on politics and aesthetics, the seminar will revisit the structures of the documentary interview (with a range of film & video examples) and explore the site where inter-viewing becomes a performative art, playing with the structure of interview and the very space of betweenness.