The Making of…

Coming back to a passage from Manovich that winked at me when I read it last

A visible sign of this shift is the new role that computer-generated special
effects have come to play in the Hollywood industry in the 1990s.  Many
blockbusters have been driven by special effects; feeding on their popularity,
Hollywood has even created a minigenre of "The Making of…," videos and books
that reveal how special effects are created. (300)

I wouldn’t yet self-define as a methodologist, but because I’m currently
finishing up my program’s methodology course, I have been thinking quite a bit
about how things get done, how scholarship gets made, what methodologists want,
and where the methodical (as more typically associated with a researcher’s
trail) blurs with writing.  Furthermore, in light of the recent
interchanges on WPA-l, I’m thinking about the limitations of any published
monograph to reveal the subtleties of the research and writing that went into it. 
Yet a conventional model for knowing method~ologies is through inference. 
Read something likely to have been researched and, from the text, extrapolate. 
Another model: specific procedural explanations or how-tos (the way to
ethnographize, the way to discourse analyze).  So what else can we do with
method~ology beyond the domesticated regimen (albeit a stabilizing and
study-able force) of this is how you do x?  What can we do with
method~ology beyond the reverse-ordered and confounding in-through-the-exit of
method read back through the monograph?  Maybe a collection of "the making
of" essays that looks back on the production of the project, attends to the
special effects, and so on. (Something close to North’s The Making of
or Kirsch and Sullivan’s edited collection, only more like what we get with film
and told by the one(s) who did the work). 

Or maybe not.  Hooked me when I first thought about it to pitch
something like what Manovich talks about only taken to comp scholarship. 


  1. Sounds like an interesting idea.

    I wonder, though, how much of our “making” is retrospectively constructed. In other words, how much do we rationalize our processes after the fact? How much of it actually matters at the time, and how much emerges as “important” only after it’s hit a certain point of critical mass?

    It probably says something about me that I ask these questions not to discourage but because they genuinely interest me…


  2. Exactly. Retrospectively constructed and, brace for a shocking suggestion, often not very interesting except to those whose work is notably methodical, those who are experimenting with unfamiliar processes, or those who aspire to occupy a slot in that critical mass (in the sense of entering the field or contributing something disciplinarily recognizable).

    Of course, no matter how many times I watch “The Making of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” for example, I still won’t be able to get the ship dive into the sea in my own wizardry movie.

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