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Essayisms Reading Group: Essays on Film

Monday 26 April 2021, 5.00PM

Please join us to discuss the essay film at the Essayisms Reading Group’s first meeting of the Summer Term.  
Centred around Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil (1983), this session will explore the essay as moving image, sound and sensation. Through Marker, we will revisit two writers from the Essayisms’ reading group archive.
In Sans Soleil, shots of Japan’s Chiba coast are accompanied by musings on Sei Shōnagon, the 11th-century Japanese writer whose Pillow Book we considered in the autumn. Sandor Krasna’s praise (via the voice of the film’s female narrator) for Shōnagon’s lists of ‘things that quicken the heart’ speaks to the ability of Sans Soleil to conjure meaning through affect. Susan Howe, whom we discussed last term, explores the poetics of the nonfiction film in ‘Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker’. Keen to inform us that Marker ‘was a poet first’, Howe considers the political and aesthetic importance of ‘facts’ to the poetics of the essay film. For this session’s final essay we turn to contemporary theorist and filmmaker Kodwo Eshun, whose ‘The Art of the Essay Film’—as well as being a well-crafted essay in its own right—offers an account of how filmmakers have approached histories of violence. Towards the end of his essay Eshun captures the force of this genre: ‘We can think of the essay film as a space-time in which to realise the adventure of thinking’.
Register here in advance.
Reading (available via the Essayisms Google Drive):
  • ‘Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker’ by Susan Howe
  • ‘The Art of the Essay Film: The Organisation of Sounds and Images in the Postwar Essay Film’ by Kodwo Eshun
  • Sans Soleil by Chris Marker (available on Vimeo and YouTube)

All are welcome! Please contact Bryony Aitchison ( for access to readings or any questions about getting involved. 


Location: Online via Zoom