Alas for Intute

It is possible that the majority of the readers to the Bioscope will not have heard of Intute. This is a shame, because for a long time it has been a gem of a research resource, but one whose future has just been stylied by funding cuts. Intute (a terrible name – it was much better when it was known as the Resource Discovery Network, or RDN) is a directory of websites selected for their value to academic research and then described and classified by a team of subject specialists. It is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee, a somewhat scary-sounding UK body which supports online services for UK universities, but the JISC has just announced a funding cut from August 2010, the result being that Intute will no longer be updated from that point onwards.

This is a great shame, because Intute is a well-organised, imaginative and useful service. Among the several thousand web resources it lists, under such academic areas as Biological Sciences, Geography and Environment, Pyschology and Social Sciences, there are many under Media Studies and Creative and Performing Arts which relate to film, and some of those relate to silent film. Of these, most will be familiar to you (or can be found among the links on the right-hand column of this site), but looking again I found a few that were new to me. Here are three, with Intute’s own descriptions:

Bibliografie des fantastischen films : bibliography of fantastic film

The ‘Bibliography of Fantastic Film’ is a free online bibliography of the secondary literature on such films. As of August 2008 the bibliography contains around 54,000 items. The bibliography is a personal project by Holger Schnell, begun in 1991. Schnell describes the bibliography as covering “the whole range of fantastic film from the silent era to nowadays including horror, science fiction and fantasy as well as animation and experimental film”. Books and articles from magazines are covered, as well as thesis and dissertations. The bibliography can be browsed by person, film title and subject, and a free search can be conducted for the whole database or in a selected index. The website contains a special feature on ‘Religion In Film’, and lists on selected subjects, directors, and key films. The website is cleanly designed and easy to use and navigate.

Cinema and film industry in Weimar Republic, 1918-1933

‘Cinema and film industry in Weimar Republic, 1918-1933’ is a 14,000-word extract from an unpublished thesis undertaken by Secil Deren at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara in 1997. The text outlines the Expressionist Period through an examination of ‘Das Kabinett Des Dr. Caligari’ and the films that Caligari influenced, including ‘Metropolis.’ The text then outlines: the ‘Stabilization Period After the Dawes Plan’; ‘Montage Documentaries and Walter Ruttmann’; ‘Cinema as a Means of Political Propaganda’; and ‘Cinema Industry and the Left-Wing Intelligentsia’. Students will find the analysis here of the intrusion of political and economic matters into cultural life in the Weimar period to be an interesting starting point for further study. There is a bibliography.

Spanish-American war in United States media culture

The “Spanish-American War in United States media culture” website contains a hypertext essay with pictures and drawings about the representation of the 1898 Cuban-Spanish-North American War (or Spanish-American War) in United States media culture. The essay investigates the role of the film “Unthinking Eurocentrism” in the larger mediation of the Spanish-American War and attempts to increase the understanding of pre-classical cinema in the United States. Contained here is an introduction followed by six sections that includes “Film studies and the Spanish-American War”, “Media culture and representations of war”, “Early cinema and the Spanish-American War”, “Receptions of war”, “The war at home” and “Resisting spectators”. Each major section links to pages both inside and outside that section or to a different website. In addition, there is a bibliography, a link to American Quarterly and links to other online resources.

Unfortunately such a labour-intensive service could not be sustained by central funding for ever, particularly when there are so many of us out there who are happy to do much the same sort of work for free, if not quite so thoroughly. It’s good that at least what Intute has produced so far will be kept online, but the Web never stands still, and the information Intute preserves will gradually become irrelevant. Such is the fate of every reference guide that is fixed in time, alas.

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