Elizabeth Coffman

Elizabeth Coffman is a documentary filmmaker and film scholar. She's published work in Camera Obscura, Journal of Film & Video and other places. Her film work has been broadcast and screened at festivals in Europe and the U.S. Elizabeth maintains messy homes in Chicago and in Tampa, where her two children live with their father during the week, and stay with her on the weekends. Elizabeth and her filmmaking partner have a media production company -- Long Distance Productions.

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Most Recent Articles

March 16, 2011
There’s been a lot of negative media lately, particularly surrounding education and teachers' unions in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. My children attend a Florida public high school that is ranked as one of the top five best schools in the state for academics, and consistently ranked number one in football and volleyball. They have an extensive Advanced Placement course program that is so popular that my kids cannot get into all of the AP courses that they want. The courses are large and overenrolled, but at least they are challenging.
March 3, 2011
Two weeks ago, I was at a Chicago dinner party with Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, columnist for Politics Dailey and author of the FLOTUS blog on Michelle Obama. Sweet was in town covering Rahm Emanuel’s successful race to replace mayor Richard M. Daley. After dinner Sweet remarked on the surprising media response to her Daily Flotus piece about the first lady’s support of breastfeeding legislation.
February 16, 2011
When I first heard the word, I thought, ‘Edupunk sounds like the kind of educational strategy that my son Nick may appreciate.’ My seventeen year-old's declining grades and motivation in his AP and Honors courses have been a source of mystery for his father and myself. When he’s not watching Youtube, Nick strives to be a rock-n-roll star, so connecting education to the D.I.Y. strategies of punk rockers may just be his ticket.
February 2, 2011
If you’ve been snowed in and have a little time on your hands -- as I do in Chicago — then I bet you’ve either read or heard about Stephanie Coontz’s new book, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.
January 19, 2011
The holiday vacation is for me, as for many academics, a time when I complete much-needed fieldwork for projects; in my case, completing a documentary on the bayous of Louisiana. After driving across the country, my partner and I were nearing the end of a long, road trip, passing through I-57 in southern Illinois. (I bet you can guess what happens next…)
January 5, 2011
I ended last semester with 58 student research papers to read and grade in 10 days. 700 (digital) pages to digest, analyze and write comments for. After staying up until 6:00 AM on the last night that grades were due, I wondered to myself, “What’s my problem with multiple choice exams?”
December 8, 2010
This weekend I took my daughter tree climbing as part of the new therapy she’s been receiving. Katie was given a rope, a helmet and a harness, and shown how to manipulate knots and footholds to inch her way to the top of 50-foot tall tree. The fun part was when the instructors persuaded Katie to return upside-down on the rope--‘spider-girl’-like--with her feet clinging to a knot, until her hands touched the ground.
November 18, 2010
What does it mean to archive emails? Are they the letters for the 21st century? Or are they the phone calls that simply disappear into the atmosphere? I know that I try to personally archive some of my children’s text messages, as well as their voice mails, because I understand that these fleeting moments document both their youth and the passage of time. Suddenly, though, there seem to be too many significant moments for me to save -- Facebook albums, chat sessions, cell phone photos--and a lot of technology to master in order to do it all.
November 4, 2010
My two teenagers have developed musical skills that neither their father nor myself ever possessed. They both participate in marching band, and have since middle school. I did not quite understand what this meant when my kids first got involved. Most of their friends played in the band and -- like the best student organizations — the after school commitment provided my kids with both a social life and valuable musical instruction.
October 21, 2010
Growing up in the south, my sisters and I spent years training in the 'sport' that many middle class young ladies did at the time — ballet. Despite the blister-causing pain of dancing en pointe, I actually enjoyed ballet — the aesthetics, the rigor and the exhilaration of performing for an audience. In college I was introduced to the idea that dance did not have to involve so much pain and damage to my feet, and discovered that modern and African dance are just as rewarding.

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