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MSU’s Hidalgo Publishes Unique Interconnected Video Essay ‘Book’

Assistant Professor Alexandra Hidalgo has created the first collection of interconnected video essays around one topic. Cámara Retórica: A Feminist Filmmaking Methodology for Rhetoric and Composition is the first video book to be published.

“As far as I can tell, I’m the first person to publish a video book, but there are a lot of people creating video essays,” Hidalgo said. “Video essays are not an entirely new genre, but there’s never been a collection of interrelated video essays that are tied together the way that this one is.”

Comprised of six video essay chapters and published by Computers and Composition Digital PressCámara Retórica connects film and video production, feminist filmmaking, and rhetoric and composition, drawing from interviews with scholars in rhetoric and composition who also practice filmmaking and from women filmmakers discussing their work and creative methods.

“For a video essay, you write your scholarly piece; you record narration; and then you add stills and moving images and music to it,” Hidalgo said. “It’s a blend of reading scholarship and watching a film.”

woman w/ camera standing next to another woman
Professor Alexandra Hidalgo (left) filming herself and her mother (right).

Cámara Retórica explores feminist filmmaking and how it could benefit those in the field of rhetoric and composition who are making moving images work. It defines and develops six principles of feminist filmmaking and applies them to the ways in which rhetoric and composition scholars engage with film and video production — from learning the technology, to publishing and screening their work, to attaining traditional and non-traditional modes of recognition for their films and videos.

“If you are going to theorize moving images, it’s not a bad deal to be able to see the images that are being theorized as they’re being theorized,” Hidalgo said. “This way, you get to experience it as you are learning about it, which is one of the strengths of this medium.”

Hidalgo got the idea for a video book from watching the video essay, The Dancing Floor by Sarah Arroyo and Bahareh Alaei, both of whom are interviewed for the video book, describing their creative process for The Dancing Floor.

“It was the first video essay I ever watched and it just floored me,” Hidalgo said. “I decided to create something like the experience of watching The Dancing Floor, but longer. Thus, the video book idea was formed.”

– excerpted from the College of Arts and Letters website

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