“Places of the Coronavirus” – Exploring Globalized Pandemic Narratives in a Class on Filmic Geography

Authors: Elisabeth Sommerlad*, JGU Mainz, Institute of Geography, Julian Zschocke*, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Topics: Communication
Keywords: Film Geography, Filmmaking, Digital Learning, Coronavirus
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 48
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Integrating filmmaking-practices into the toolset of geographic fieldwork has been a longstanding concern for filmgeographers. This applies to research contexts, but especially to geography classes. Within the international MA-program “Human Geography: Globalization, Media and Culture” (JGU Mainz/Germany), filmmaking has been part of the curriculum for several years: In a seminar, students explore how to utilize the inherent geographies of film as means of knowledge production.
The coronavirus pandemic caused a significant shift in the organizational practice of the class and challenges its implementation; particularly the question of how filmic practice can be applied to digital learning when international participants cannot attend campus, although the entire technical equipment and film lab is located there.
This turning point enabled us to experiment with new forms of teaching filmic geography: Equipped with their smartphones and basic editing software, students work in virtual groups to plan and perform the filming of individual segments on the cross-cutting topic of “Places of the Coronavirus”. These are later combined through narration and editing, allowing for a new kind of intercultural text production that is both localized due to travel restrictions and at the same time globalized within the range of different locations represented.
We outline the challenges attached to rethinking the class, as well as the potential emerging from this specific form of filmic practice. We tackle examples created during the seminar – documentaries that explore how individuals in different cultural contexts cope with the new spatial realities, mobilities and senses of place during the pandemic.

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