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Ebert Center Launched at University of Illinois with Lecture on Friday, October 28, in Champaign-Urbana

The official launch of the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies in the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will take place with an Inaugural Lecture on Friday, October 28th. The lecture, titled, "Re-Enchanting Our Relationship to Film and Media History: A Brief Survey of the Media Ecology Project," will feature University of Illinois alum Mark Williams (BA '78, LAS), Associate Professor of Film and Media studies at Dartmouth College and Director of the Media Ecology Project. It will take place at the Spurlock Museum's Knight Auditorium, 600 S. Gregory, in Urbana, Illinois.

The program will start at 4pm with opening remarks from Julie Turnock, the newly named Director of the Ebert Center. Ms. Turnock is an Associate Professor of Media and Cinema Studies in the College of Media. “The College of Media is eager to celebrate Roger Ebert’s legacy through this new center that will engage scholars, students, and movie fans alike in robust conversations about film,” said Dean Tracy Sulkin in a statement. “I look forward to the energy and insight that Professor Turnock will bring to the director role.” 

Professor Turnock will be followed by publisher Chaz Ebert, whose gift with her late husband Roger initiated the endowment fund. Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese will appear via video. A post-lecture Q&A with Professor Williams will welcome questions from attendees who can participate either in-person or via Zoom (you can register to attend virtually here). The lecture will conclude with a 6:15pm film screening featuring selections from the Civil Rights Newsfilm collection (1950-1980) and other films in the Media Ecology Project.

Professor Mark Williams has published widely on film and media history, and at Dartmouth, he directed the foundational digital humanities Cyber-Disciplinarity Humanities Institute, founded an e-journal, The Journal of e-Media Studies, co-edited the book series Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture, and received a Scholarly Innovation and Advancement award and two Neukom grants to build MEP. With John Bell he developed the NEH-funded Semantic Annotation Tool (SAT). They subsequently received two NEH advancement grants to develop SAT for studies of early cinema and civil rights era newsfilm. (See their 2021 essay in Digital Humanities Quarterly for addition details.) A new MEP project is studying the international motion picture legacies of the US Information Agency. With Prof. Ayo Coly, he recently received a Dean of the Faculty Award to develop a new interdisciplinary course on “The Idea of Africa.”

"I am looking forward to this day as the culmination of one of Roger's dreams for the University that he said gave him such a great start in life and in the film industry," said Chaz Ebert. 

For more information on the inaugural Ebert Center lecture, visit the official site of the College of Media at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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