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Erik Barnouw

It is with sadness that the Press notes the passing of Erik Barnouw. Professor Barnouw was a co-editor of the Temple University Press book series, Wide Angle Books, with Ruth Bradley, Scott MacDonald and Patricia R. Zimmermann.

Erik is considered by many to be one of the founding figures in the field of university level communications programs. His life, however, was not confined to the academy. He worked as an ad writer, a television writer, a journalist, a songwriter, a curator, a filmmaker, an archivist, a board member of many media organizations, a consultant on many film projects, a film preservationist. Up until his death, he was a constant advocate for independent work, in all genres: he was generous in his spirit and always engaged and delighted by new work and new makers from all across the globe. His selections as a curator changed how we think about media history and film art.

He was emeritus professor in dramatic arts at Columbia University. He served as the first President of International Film Seminars, and was the first film curator at the Library of Congress.

Beyond these accomplishments that exceed what one can imagine doing in a lifetime, Erik was a compassionate, ethical, and clear-headed presence in the media arts world. He was an academic who spanned the archival, festival, production, and art worlds, and a writer whose work knew no boundaries between professional and amateur, between the commercial world and the art world, between fiction and non-fiction, between the experienced and the emerging. Erik's humor and wit still ring in many of our ears. His editorial vision was flawless, spontaneous, and always, always laser-sharp.

But above all, Erik's legacy resonates to insist that optimism, generosity, and unbridled enthusiasm and inquiry for all human effort—whether in media or life—are the only media that really matter.

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also published an obituary (September 2001).


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