CAMS Professor Carol Donelan recently published an essay, “Film Lecturing on Behalf of the National Audubon Society: Roger Tory Peterson’s Wild America,” in The Moving Image: The Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists 17.1 (2017).
Roger Tory Peterson is best known as a bird illustrator and author of a series of groundbreaking field guides that popularized bird-watching and nature study. However, he was also an amateur filmmaker, who toured with his own self-produced 16mm lecture films throughout the 1950s, promoting conservation on behalf of the National Audubon Society, as a participant in a nationwide 16mm network, the Audubon Screen Tours. The essay focuses on Peterson’s best-known film, Wild America, which has been partially synchronized with a recording of him lecturing to a Screen Tour audience, and which offers a rare and invaluable record of a “live” Screen Tour performance. Taking into account the film lecturer’s role as performer, as a contact between film and audience, enlarges our sense of the object of film history.
Image above: Screen capture from Roger Tory Peterson’s Wild America. Facing a colony of one million penguins, Peterson exclaims, “This picture always reminds me of an Audubon lecture audience.”