Through Images, Words, and Sounds: Filmic Narration and Public History

Bruno Ramirez

Université de Montréal

1:30 PM, Friday, October 9, 2015, Multi-Media Lab, Discovery Centre, MacOdrum Library.


As a key protagonist in the ongoing technological and artistic revolutions of the past one hundred years, the medium of film has been a major influence on popular and learned culture, often interpreting past events and personalities for increasingly large national and international audiences.

Not surprisingly, the dangers that historical films pose for our historical culture have long been an ongoing concern for the historical profession, even if some prominent historians as diverse as Natalie Zemon Davis, Edmund Morgan, and Robert Rosenstone, among others, have pointed to the rewards that filmic visions of the past can offer when crafted creatively and responsibly. Can the historical film be viewed as a form of public history? If not, what is or should be the relationship between the two?

Bruno Ramirez will address these and related issues drawing from his practice as both academic historian and screenwriter of historical films, and with a main focus on the immigrant experience in Canadian history.

Bruno Ramirez


Bruno Ramirez is a professor of History at the Université de Montréal.

He has widely published on the history of migrations to and within North America. His books in this field include: Les premiers Italiens de Montréal: l’origine de la Petite Italie du Québec; On the Move: French-Canadian and Italian Migrants in the North Atlantic Economy, 1861-1914; and Crossing the 49th Parallel: Emigration from Canada to the USA, 1900-1930.

Bruno Ramirez has also been actively engaged in filmmaking. He has co-written the screenplays for the award-winning films “Caffé Italia, Montréal” (ACPAV and SRC); and “La Sarrasine” (ACPAV and NFB)–both directed by Paul Tana, and he has written the award-winning CBC mini series “Il Duce Canadese,” directed by Giles Walker.

In his most recent book–Inside the Historical Film (MQUP, 2014)–he analyses a variety of filmic representations of the past while also interacting with some world-renowned filmmakers who have directed historical films.

Shannon Lectures in History, 2015