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Natalie Zemon Davis


Natalie Zemon Davis (born November 8, 1928) is an American feminist and post-modernist historian of early modern France.

Born in Detroit, she graduated from Cranbrook Kingswood School. She is professor ermerita of history at Princeton and currently adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is married to mathematician and science fiction writer Chan Davis.

Her main interests are in social and cultural history, especially of those previously ignored by historians. Davis makes use of numerous sources such as judical records, plays, pamphlets, notarial records, tax rolls, books and welfare documents. She is a leading proponent of cross-disciplinary history, which consists of combining history with disciplines as anthropology, art history, ethnography and literacy theory. She is best known for serving as the technical advisor on the 1982 French film Le retour de Martin Guerre (known in English as The Return of Martin Guerre); in 1983 she wrote a book of the same name with her interpretation of the story of Martin Guerre.

Davis is an great believer in the possibility of multiple and mutually incomparable "truths" co-existing besides one another. She believes that the use of fiction could explain the past better then the traditional reliance on veritable facts. For this reason, Davis feels film with its ability to tell different versions of the same story and to present multiple viewpoints could potentially explain history better than can the traditional methods of history. Sometimes, her work features "interviews" in which she holds imaginary conservations with the subjects of her books. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natalie_Zemon_Davis [Oct 2005]

Slaves on Screen : Film and Historical Vision (2000) - Natalie Zemon Davis

Slaves on Screen : Film and Historical Vision (2000) - Natalie Zemon Davis [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Publishers Weekly
A history professor at Princeton University, Natalie Zemon Davis (The Return of Martin Guerre; Women on the Margins) is also a seasoned critic of historical film. With Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision, she discusses how movies represent history differently than books do. Can narrative films achieve the accuracy and authenticity that writers can? "Can there be lively cinematic equivalents to what prose histories try to accomplish in prefaces, bibliographies, and notes and through their modifying and qualifying words 'perhaps,' 'maybe,' and 'we are uncertain about'?" In order to answer these questions, Davis looks at a handful of films that have attempted to capture themes of slavery, struggle and rebellion (Spartacus, Burn!, The Last Supper, Amistad and Beloved) and analyzes the devices they've used to convey history, as they understand and wish to express it. It is her hope that "with patience, imagination, and experimentation, historical narration through film could become both more dramatic and more faithful to the sources from the past." (Harvard Univ., $22.95 176p ISBN 0-674-00444-2; Sept.) Given that Shakespeare is one of the world's most famous interpreters of history, it seems fitting that the 14 academics whose essays form Shakespeare, Film, Fin de Si?cle believe that the recent surge of Shakespearean films (Shakespeare in Love, Hamlet, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet) reflects modern man's association of millennium-sized issues with the Bard himself. Edited by Mark Thornton Burnett and Ramona Wray (respectively, a reader and a lecturer in English at Queen's University of Belfast), the volume tackles such topics as advancing technology, families at risk and cultural intolerance. Included among the provocative pieces is a gem of an interview with Kenneth Branagh. (St. Martin's, $42 272p ISBN 0-312-23148-2; Aug.) --Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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