The philosophy of film
The college recently announced that four members of the faculty have been awarded tenure by the Board of Trustees and will be promoted to the rank of associate professor. This is the second in a four-part series highlighting the faculty earning tenure this year: Brenda Boyle, English; HyeKyung Lee, music; Jonathan Walley, cinema; and Lina Yoo, biology.
Jonathan Walley has loved art since he was little, spending afternoons with his mother in a nearby modernist, abstract sculpture garden.
“It can be very hard work to understand art, but it also should be a source of fun and intellectually stimulating,” he commented recently in his office in the Cinema House. Walley is another of the college’s newly tenured faculty members who will become associate professor at the beginning of fall semester.
After graduating from Bard College in Annandale, N.Y., with a B.A. in film in 1993, he earned both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in film studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was a teaching assistant and lecturer while earning his advanced degrees and spent a semester as an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University in 2004. He joined Denison’s cinema department in 2005.
“Teaching film as a popular art form gives me a chance to help my students approach cinema and recognize what is beautiful, exciting, moving, emotional or even ugly, and still have fun with it,” he says.
This semester, Walley is teaching a seminar called “The Horror Film.” Along with viewing films, the students see paintings, theatrical works and read horror literature. “They are trying to discover what is pleasurable about something that seems on its face to be otherwise. It is a somewhat philosophical enterprise.”
Walley enjoys teaching seminars that attract students who have interests other than film, such as literature or psychology, because they bring their particular knowledge to the classes.
“The cinema department combines instruction on both production and studies,” he says, “and students have an opportunity to discover the depth as well as the breadth of the liberal arts.”