Institutionalizing Moving Image Archival Training: Analyses, Histories, Theories

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eds. Philipp Dominik Keidl and Christian Gosvig Olesen
Synoptique - an Online Journal for Film and Moving Image Studies
Journal. Film Archiving, Profession
Synoptique: an Online Journal for Film and Moving Image Studies, Vol. 6, no. 1

To speak of moving image archiving as a professional field with practitioners who have completed vocational training is a recent phenomenon. Numerous specialized degrees emerged since the late 1990s and early 2000s that prepare their graduates to work with all kinds of moving images in diverse institutional settings, ranging from local and national archives and museums to software developers and media corporations, among others.

This institutionalization of university-based archival training stemmed from an increased interest in moving image heritage, the expansion of archival networks, and the need to equip students with applicable expertise for careers in the cultural industries. They also emerged in a publicized awareness of the alleged crisis of the moving image in times of the increasing digitization of cultural heritage (Cherchi Usai 2001; Elsaesser 2016).

This issue tries to consider and reflect on the field’s status today and yield critical insights into its histories and current ramifications. It aims to historicize and investigate the material, intellectual, and institutional history of archival training within and beyond university settings, while also offering an overview of new directions. Ultimately, the aim of this issue is to develop a better understanding of the social, political, and cultural forces that have shaped and defined archival training in the past and present and nourish continued critical reflection.

More than the institutionalization of established “best practices”, archival training’s different departmental homes within the humanities, social sciences, and sciences indicate differences in ontological and epistemological conceptualization of moving images and their role in culture. As such, this issue asks how archival training theoretically and practically impacts archives as sites of study as well as central spaces where moving image culture is collected, preserved, and displayed. Prominent practitioners and theorists provide answers to these questions
by offering insights into the multifarious turns and directions that the field has taken in the past few decades, and where it may go in the future.


Table of Contents


  • Introduction - Christian Gosvig Olesen, Philipp Dominik Keidl

Is Film Archiving a Profession Yet? Reflections 20 years on

  • Is film Archiving a profession yet? A reflection 20 years on - Ray Edmondson
  • What Price Professionalism? - Caroline Frick
  • Interdisciplinary, Specialization, Conceptualization - Eef Masson, Giovanna Fossati
  • What Do We Profess To? - Benedict Salazar Olgado
  • The History of The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation: Changing the Field - Caroline Yeager


  • Multiplying Perspectives - Alejandro Bachmann
  • Learn then Preserve - Simone Venturini
  • The Current Landscape of Film Archiving and How Study Programs Can Contribute - Adelheid Heftberger

Forum Section

  • A Look Back: The Professional Master's Programme in Preservation and Presentation - Thomas Elsaesser
  • Minding the Materiality of Film: The Frankfurt Master Program - Sonia Campanini, Vinzenz Hediger, Ines Bayer
  • The Materiality of Heritage: Moving Image Preservation Training at HTW Berlin - Ulrich Ruedel, Martin Koerber
  • Upholding Tradition: The MA Program at the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF - Oliver Hanley
  • Education Through International Collaboration: The Audiovisual Preservation Exchange (APEX) program - Pamela Vizner, Juana Suarez
  • Learning From the Keepers: Archival Training in Italian Cinematheques - Rosella Catanese

Book Reviews

  • Review of Film History as Media Archeology - Giuseppe Fidotta
  • Review of Hollywood and the Great Depression - Andrée Lafontaine