Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Conferences Summer 2016 edition

Here is my current list of English-language conferences of interest to those in film studies (and some for TV and media studies). Upcoming conferences are listed in order by date or, for open calls, by abstract due date. Please let me know if I should add anything.  I will update this post throughout the summer and early fall.

This is the slow season - lots of conferences being held, but few calls. The big exception of course is SCMS

Closed calls:
The Annual Conference of the Film Studies Association of Canada May 31 -June 2, 2016 the University of Calgary, Theme: “Energizing Communities” [website]
Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Images (SCSMI) Cornell Univ, Ithica, NY, June 1st – 4th, 2016 [website]
ICA - Fukuoka, Japan June 9-13, 2016 [website]
Console-ing Passions, Notre Dame University, Indiana, June 16-18, 2016 [website]
Screen - Univ of Glasgow, June 24-26, 2016 [website]
NECS - Potsdam, July 26-30, 2016 [website]
UFVA - Las Vegas, August 1-4, 2016 [website]
Visible Evidence XXIII - Bozeman, Montana, Aug 11-14, 2016 Theme: "New Frontiers in Documentary" [website | call]
Flow Conference, Austin, Texas, September 15-17, 2016 [website]
Literature/Film Association Annual Conference, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ, October 13-16, 2016 [website]
MLA - Philadelphia, January 5-8, 2017  [website]

Current calls:
due date: Sept 1, 2016  SCMS - Chicago, Mar 22-26, 2017 [website]

Upcoming calls:
MLA - New York, January , 2018
Console-ing Passions, East Carolina Univ., July 27-29, 2017
ICA 2017 - San Diego, California, 25-29 May 2017

Monday, May 23, 2016

CFP: Production Cultures


The Velvet Light Trap
Issue #80 - "Production Cultures"
Submission deadline: August 15, 2016
Submit to: thevelvetlighttrap-AT-gmail.com

In the introduction to their edited book on production studies, Vicki Mayer, Miranda Banks, and John T. Caldwell argue that “the off-screen production of media is itself a cultural production, mythologized and branded much like the onscreen textual culture that media industries produce.” This has never been more true than in the current moment.

The production process – aided by the proliferation of social media – has become increasingly visible. Long before movies, games, comic book issues, or television series are released, audiences have already been exposed to, and have opined over, casting choices, false starts, locations, script drafts, and various other aspects of the production process. Additionally, the development of cinematic universes has caused the cultures of production to become increasingly complex, resulting in productions that are both more global and transmedia-minded. This raises new questions about power and labor as new relationships are forged between production capitals, and workers who have traditionally functioned independently of each other must come together to create transmedia stories. In addition, the newly-heightened visibility of the production process, and the consolidation of the production studies field, emphasizes the need to reexamine and evaluate production cultures of the past.

This issue of The Velvet Light Trap seeks historical and contemporary studies of media production. Submissions should engage with the above issues of increased complexity, visibility, and ubiquity, in addition to new questions. We invite scholars to submit work that not only deepens our current understanding of production studies, but also challenges our assumptions about what production cultures are, and the types of questions that should be asked about them. We would also ask scholars to consider how issues of gender, race, and sexuality function beyond the screen and contextualize these issues within the production process.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Relationships between producers and consumers
  • Negotiating professional identity
  • Evolution of production
  • Production communities
  • Creative hierarchies within cinematic universes
  • Industry lore related to specific productions
  • Issues of gender, race, sexuality, and/or disability
  • Labor relations, unions, and guilds
  • Below-the-line labor
  • Failed productions/Fired producers
  • Disputes between producers and creators
  • Unpaid labor and intern culture
  • Contracts and other legal issues
  • Labor of practical effects
  • Genre-specific work identities
  • Video game production cultures
  • Stunt work
  • Production and publicity of star texts
  • Gender and exploitation in music cultures
  • Production of user-generated media
  • Cultures of documentary film production
  • Cultures of live production (sports, news, live musicals)

 More submission guidelines available at the journal website.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Auteur Bias of History Textbooks

I will need to update my reviews of film history textbooks, but now that I'm wrapping up a semester of teaching a film history survey, I would like to circle back to two general complaints I've had about film history textbooks. First, they are often too completist and not well suited for many undergraduate pedagogical contexts. Second, they are often too auteur-oriented, listing major director after major director.

The good news is that I've been fairly happy with the book I've been using this semester, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster and Wheeler Winston Dixon's A Short History of Film, which seems to have the right balance of coverage and concision. But even here, I can point to an example of the limitations of the auteur bias in textbooks.

I'm setting aside the bigger debates about auteurism here. What I mean is that the granularity of film lists and auteur profiles gets in the way of the bigger picture that a good film history survey can provide. In their discussion of New German Cinema, Foster and Dixon profile major auteurs (Fassbinder, Wenders, Herzog, and Straub/Huillet) and mention a few others (Schlöndorff, von Trotta, Syberberg, Kluge). However, missing is any generalization about what New German Cinema meant as a movement. Yes, it's a heterogeneous movement, but there are important aspects: the critical self-examination of German history and contemporary West German politics, the synthesis of Brecht and Hollywood-style narrative, and the importance of television and government subsidy.

I understand that one function of a film history textbook is introduce students to the canon, by listing films and directors they should consider watching. But ultimately, the bigger picture is more useful to students than a list of auteurs and, I would argue, is central to the tough work of asking students to think about film historically.