“That’s a very important line, pay attention to that,” said Queens College professor Anupama Kapse.
Her Silent and early sound era class was set up in a semi circle as they watched 7th heaven, a 1927 Parisian film, she encouraged students to interpret the film.
Kapse’s film classes have served as tools to the publications she’s put out in past years due to the many things that she has learned from different students.
“I find that a lot of students in Queens College particularly are interested in questions of race, questions of social justice, questions of empowerment,” said Kapse. “They often bring up examples from their own lives and I love to incorporate that into my teaching.”
Last year, Kapse published “Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space” and won “The Best Edited Collection” award.
Kapse worked on the book for six years along with Professor Jennifer Bean, from the University of Washington at Seattle, and Laura Horak who is now at Carleton University.
“It started at Berkeley when we organized a conference on silent cinema,” said Kapse. “Then I came here and my friend Laura was also in Berkeley and then she was in Stockholm in Sweden and then she went to Canada.”
Although all three professors were at different locations, the coming together of the book worked fine because she focused on her own set of chapters.
“It’s an edited collection so a lot of it was people sending us their essays and we would work online” said Kapse.
According to the Indiana press website, the book focuses on the cross-cultural history of narrative cinema and media from the 1910s to the 1930s, a time when leading and emergent scholars explore the transnational crossings and exchanges that occurred in early cinema between the two world wars.
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies presented Kapse with her award on March 27th during their annual conference in which college professors and graduate students unite to present upcoming publications and celebrate those that have already been published.
Kapse is very passionate about film but before coming to the United States she was an English professor in India.
“I had been in that career for 10 years and I felt like I was done,” said Kapse. “Been there done that, so I came to Berkeley at that point and that’s when I started working on film.”
Kapse was a very prestigious straight-A student with parents who expected her to become a federal officer. But her love for books and movies drove her to the field of film.
“I love books, I love movies and people always joke that professors never get out of school,” she said. “It was kind of the same thing for me, I knew that I enjoyed that the most.”
Her teaching years in India served as a lesson in getting students to open up about their feelings and interpretation of film. It was not an easy experience when she first began to teach because she had to become a good public speaker.
“I knew I was good at preparation but I sucked at presenting the material,” she said. “Very slowly I learned how to do that and how to involve the class because is not good to keep talking all the time.”
Kapse’s passion has become evident to her students. Some said they chose to take her class because of positive online reviews but soon found an improvement within themselves and their writing.
“It’s very interesting,” said Loredana Miranda, 18, a media studies and political science major in Kapse’s Early Film Genre class. “Even though it’s an hour-long class, she makes it very easy for us to engage with the actual film, which is something I don’t have in any other class.”
“I like the way the professor stops the film in class to helps us understand the way it was shot,” said Vicky Phanthasone, 27, a media studies senior. “I think she’s a great writer and she’s really helping me excel in my writing; I didn’t have that before, and I used to be a Journalism major at my last college.”
And while the students like the structure of the professor’s class there is one thing they felt can be improved.
“I wish we watched the movie before discussing the movie,” said Phantasone. ”Discussions would make more sense after watching the film.”
Kapse is currently working on a new book, “Film as Body Politics,” as the sole author under a publication fellowship with Queens College. She is only teaching one class this semester but will be teaching more classes in the fall once her fellowship is over.
“This is something all students should know, that being an academic is very hard work, there are no fixed hours” said Kapse. “I have to be here in a particular day for a specific number of hours but because teaching is not the only thing you do we are more of reading books, writing articles, we’re advising students, we are networking with other experts in the field. All of that is very time consuming.”
Kapse has an 18-year-old son who is about to start college, and all of the work she has been doing does not leave her enough time for him.
“This is a very demanding year for him as well. He needs a lot of support from me because he’s working on applications. And because I’m a college professor he wants me to help, and so do I,” said Kapse.
All these publications that she continues to work on are part of her PhD dissertation, which she is publishing as a book. She considers it her primary contribution to the field. But it is her ongoing curiosity about the world that keeps Kapse motivated to write.
“My projects always come out of something I’m thinking about,” said Kapse. “My work comes out of, a question that hasn’t been explored or a field of knowledge that is not available to other scholars in the field or just students.”
Kapse mentality is set on revealing something new to the world that hasn’t been explored before. Her ideas for her publications on silent cinema came from the question of why it is important to even think about that time period and what the readers must learn from it.
Kapse goes to India once a year and goes through film archives and keeps in touch with the transformations that have taken place, which have changed tremendously in the past five years.
“My work is based on research that I’ve done that people in India would not know much about,” said Kapse. “If you stop somebody on the street and ask, do you know when the first Indian film was made? They would say ‘I don’t know’.”
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