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

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.
October 7, 2010
After flying in from Chicago to visit my children recently, I arrived in time to watch them perform in the marching band for their weekly football game. My daughter, Katie, who plays the trombone, spotted me in the audience and needed to leave the stands and come weep a bit on my shoulder. She couldn’t explain exactly what was wrong, but it seemed to be a combination of loneliness, not finding enough friends in the band, and missing me a bit.
September 22, 2010
The last few years have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for my son Nick. He’s been busy with school obligations, starting rock bands with his friends, and trying to pass a full schedule of Honors and AP coursework. Nick seems happy. He works as a lifeguard and plays in his school’s marching band. But for some reason, he refuses to do much homework and his grades have dropped.
September 9, 2010
September 6th was the 150th birthday of writer, philosopher and political activist Jane Addams --the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the founder of Chicago’s Hull House. I decided to require my honors students to meet me for class this week at the Hull House museum, where a block party birthday celebration was planned for the community (with free food...).
August 26, 2010
Geez! Tuesday was the first day of school for my teenagers and my alarm did not go off! Either that or I had turned it off and rolled back to sleep.I was in Florida at the beginning of this week, both to get my teenagers off for their first day of school and also to vote. I have assessed that it is statistically more important for me to vote in the state of Florida than it is in Illinois where my university job resides (but Blagojevich has me questioning that decision...)My son Nick woke me up frantically in my bedroom, “Mom! It’s after 7!”

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