The United States Studies Centre and the American Cultures Workshop hosted a public lecture by Karen Redrobe, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Endowed Professor in Film Studies and chair of the department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania.

How have audiences expected documentary filmmakers to communicate the experiences of Afghan women during the US military intervention in Afghanistan, and what happens when a film fails to live up to, or actively works against, these expectations?

Redrobe's talk focused on Postcards from Tora Bora, a 2007 experimental documentary directed by Afghan-American filmmaker Wazhmah Osman and North American Kelly Dolak. Presenting work from her new book project about the use of animation in contemporary artists’ responses to war, Redrobe explored how Dolak and Osman activate the intersection of documentary and fiction, personal and collective, Afghan and American as they struggle to make a film depicting the realities and fictions of lived and imagined female life in Afghanistan.

Professor Karen Redrobe (formerly Beckman)

Karen Redrobe (formerly Beckman) is the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Professor of Cinema and Modern Media and Chair of the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vanishing Women: Magic, Film and Feminism (Duke UP, 2003) and Crash: Cinema and the Politics of Speed and Stasis (Duke UP, 2010). She has co-edited two volumes: Still Moving: Between Cinema and Photography with Jean Ma (Duke UP, 2008) and On Writing With Photography (Minnesota UP, 2013) with Liliane Weissberg, and is also the editor of Animating Film Theory (Duke UP, 2014), which explores the history of film theory’s engagement (and lack of engagement) with animation.

Her articles address a range of subjects, including the evolving role of film theory in the 21st century, war and the academy, violence and media, community media, animation theory, feminism and terrorism, death penalty photography, the relationship between cinema and contemporary art, and cinematic tempo. For several years she served as a senior editor of the MIT journal Grey Room, and is now a member of its editorial board. She is also a member of the PMLA advisory board.