A British cinema course taught by a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire English professor with a passion for Scotland sparked Zach Finch's interest in Scottish film and culture.
"Certain aspects of Scottish culture have intrigued me from childhood, like the Loch Ness monster and so forth," said Finch, who graduated in 2003 with a degree in political science. "But through that class I discovered Scottish film and culture to be far richer, complex and varied than most realize."
Seven years after auditing Dr. Bob Nowlan's British cinema class, Finch collaborated with his former professor on a book project that explores Scottish film.
Nowlan and Finch's "Directory of World Cinema: Scotland" is a segment in a book series by the Intellect Publishing Co. and University of Chicago Press.
In the broader conversation of Scottish film and culture, "Directory of World Cinema: Scotland," explores cinematic representations of a nation and its people, including Scottish film's productions, processes and prominent figures. It also delivers a collection of insightful reviews, which examine the merit of low-budget independents and box office giants, like "Braveheart," alike.
"It is a comprehensive introductory overview, not only of Scottish cinema, but also of major directions in the history of Scottish cinema studies and Scottish cultural studies scholarship," Nowlan said. "It is a textbook, a reference book and much more than either of those kinds of books — all at once."
When a UW-Eau Claire colleague told Nowlan about the "Directory of World Cinema" series and its need of contributions, Nowlan jumped at the chance to contribute to its Scotland segment. He also immediately thought of inviting Finch, who now is in graduate school at UW-Milwaukee, to join him on the project.
Nowlan and Finch became familiar with each other's work during Finch's days as an undergraduate at UW-Eau Claire. Nowlan took notice of Finch's quality work and his involvement on campus. After Finch graduated, the two stayed in touch and collaborated on various projects.
"Zach and I were very good friends and I greatly trusted and respected his insight, ingenuity, commitment and dedication," said Nowlan, who has traveled and researched Scotland extensively in recent years. "I would never have been able to make this happen without all that Zach brought to bear and contribute — extremely impressive and immensely valuable, all the way through."
Finch also was eager to work with his former professor on the project.
"When Bob mentioned that a possible project on Scottish cinema could be in the works, I was extremely excited," Finch said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for him. I have learned so much from him, and because of his guidance, I have had many fantastic opportunities. It was extraordinarily generous of Bob to trust a graduate student with co-editing responsibilities, and it has been a fantastic learning experience.
"UW-Eau Claire is very fortunate to have Bob, and not just for his work in film and cultural studies, but also for his teaching, activism and dedication to his students and the whole community."
Nowlan's project with Finch reflects UW-Eau Claire's commitment to faculty-student collaboration and providing students with a variety of opportunities to succeed.
"This shared project is a testimony to what is possible here at UW-Eau Claire," Nowlan said. "As a result of the kind of work we do at this university, faculty and alumni can collaborate as peers on major projects and achievements."