Arts and Culture | Local

Brandeis scholar to explore spellbinding power of films

William Flesch, Ph.D.

Hollywood has been known as the “dream factory” since at least the 1930s, when, with the coming of sound, movie makers figured out how to create worlds as realistic and unrealistic as dreams. When we dream or when we watch a movie, we go into another world.  What makes it a world, in a way that a novel or a play can’t be? And what makes us care so much about what happens to two-dimensional characters?

William (Billy) Flesch, Ph.D., a professor of English at Brandeis University, will present “How Movies Work” at the Brandeis National Committee Tucson Chapter’s University on Wheels program on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 10 a.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

Put less dramatically, Flesch will explore how American movies combine editing and story to absorb us so fully, leading a discussion about movies from Buster Keaton to “Avatar” and genres from crime films to musicals.

Flesch received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his master’s and doctorate from Cornell University. At Brandeis, he is a member of three academic departments, comparative literature, medieval and renaissance studies, and English. He is the recipient of two Brandeis teaching awards, the Michael L. Walzer Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Lerman-Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. His books include “Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction” (Harvard University Press, 2008) and The Facts on File Companion to 19th Century British Literature (2009).

The event, co-sponsored by the Tucson J, begins with a continental breakfast at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $20.

For reservations, send a check payable to BNC to Marilyn Sternstein, 5765 E. Finisterra Drive, Tucson, AZ 85750 by Jan. 3.  For more information, contact Lisa Ungar at 304-2443.