Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Discipline Biography

I'm currently doing further research into the history of American sociology for a chapter I'm writing. In addition to more standard histories of the field or more theoretical treatments of the history of sociology, I've come across a book (Fifty Years in the Sociological Enterprise) written by one sociologist, Charles H. Page, tracking his career trajectory across affiliated institutions, such as City College, Smith, and Princeton. Page was hardly a central figure in 20th century sociology, but his book is interesting precisely in its typicality, including solid programs that fall outside the typical Chicago-Harvard-Columbia-Wisconsin programs usually dominating such histories. More to the point, Page is not writing an auto-biography exactly but is approaching the history of the discipline through personal history.

I toss this post out because I'm curious about how we tell the history of the discipline. Autobiography certainly has its drawbacks as an approach; it can for instance exacerbate the "noise" of cliques, it can be unrepresentative, or it can be less efficient as an exposition. But while disciplines are abstract, aggregate terrains, they only work as embodied in its practitioners. As the plenary roundtable at the last SCMS conference showed, practitioner history can be illuminating. It leaves me wondering whose disciplinary biography I would most want to read.

Monday, June 21, 2010

CFP: Berkeley silent film conference

The First International Berkeley Conference on Silent Cinema
Cinema Across Media: the 1920s
February 24–26, 2011

Cinema’s institutional consolidation in the 1920s enlisted practitioners from many other fields and transformed the entire ensemble of established media. Avant-garde cinemas borrowed extensively from a variety of artistic practices, while the “cinematic” became the new standard for both modernist aesthetics and popular culture. Today’s multimedia environment brings cinema of the 1920s into new focus as the site of rich intermedial traffic, especially if the term “media” encompasses not only recording technologies and mass media, such as photography, phonography, radio, and illustrated press, but also the physical materials used for aesthetic expression, such as paint, print, plaster, stone, voice, and bodies.

We welcome proposals from scholars in a variety of disciplines, including music, architecture, literature, art history, theater, dance, and performance studies, and encourage international and comparative perspectives. The temporal boundaries for “the 1920s” include the transition to sound cinema. Workshop proposals from archivists and others interested in present-day media platforms (DVD, Internet, etc.) and their effect on silent film scholarship are welcome. The conference will last two-and-a-half days and include keynote lectures, concurrent panels, workshops, and screenings at the Pacific Film Archive with live musical accompaniment.

Proposals should include a title, an abstract (300 words), a short bio (100 words), and any A/V needs. Proposals must be submitted by October 15, 2010 to theconference@berkeley.edu. Notification will follow by mid-November.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Philadelphia-area film screenings

For those in the area, I have a new site charting local screenings: Philadelphia Repertory Film Blog. Note that I will start writing and posting here more this summer - I promise!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Call for Curators: In Media Res

Alisa Perren posts a call for "curators" for In Media Res, which combines an audiovisual clip with a short written analysis/polemic. Topics to include:

July 5-9 Sports and Media
July 12-16 Summer TV Season
August 2-6 Lady Gaga’s gender/queerness
August 9-13 Action Films
August 16-20 Wrestling
August 23-27 Regulation
August 30- Sept 3 Children's Culture
Sept 6-10 Dragon*Con
Sept 13-17 Film Festivals

For more details, check out the fuller call.