January 20, 2016 – Shannon Tarbell

Please join us on Friday, January 20th at 10AM in Cobb 311 for the our first Winter Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This time, we welcome Shannon Tarbell, PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies. Shannon will be presenting a chapter of her dissertation titled “Visual Conversation in Late Silent / Early Sound Film.”

Shannon’s paper is available for download here.

Please email either Katerina Korola [katerinakorola@uchicago.edu] or Dave Burnham [burnham@uchicago.edu] for the password.

Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Your coordinators,

Katerina Korola and Dave Burnham


“Visual Conversation in Late Silent/Early Sound Film”

This paper, a draft of a dissertation chapter, considers two early masterpieces of synchronized sound, Sunrise (F.W. Murnau, 1927) and Lonesome (Paul Fejos, 1928) in order to show how each film presents key scenes of dialogue, or visual conversation, with special effects that reveal rather than conceal the ordinariness of these conversations. In both of the films studied in this chapter, the ordinary occurs not simply in the sense of telling a story about regular, common people, but precisely in moments of perceiving the ordinary as momentarily strange or extraordinary. The films are therefore revelatory of the ordinary as Stanley Cavell describes it.


Shannon Tarbell is a PhD candidate in the department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She holds an M.A. in Film and Media Studies from Emory University. Her dissertation, “Small Talk: Film Dialogue and the Ordinary,” explores film dialogue’s integral yet often critically and theoretically neglected place in narrative cinema as a function of its ordinariness.

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