CFP: Film Criticism in the Digital Age

"Film Criticism in the Digital Age: Media, Purposes and the Status of the Critic”

Editors: Mattias Frey and Cecilia Sayad

The aims and status of arts and culture criticism, in general, and film criticism, in particular, are currently up for revision and under attack, according to a whole host of indicators. Numerous articles and academic monographs bemoan the crisis of criticism or mourn the death of the critic. Regular symposia and conferences dwell on the many, sometimes prominent film journalists made redundant at newspapers, magazines and other ‘old media’ in past years; Sean P. Means lists fifty-five American movie critics who lost their jobs between 2006 and 2009. It is clear that the reasons for the current situation include the worldwide recession, the recent drop in print advertising revenues and, more fundamentally, the declining circulations attributable to reluctant consumers of print media. These developments have brought forth ontological—if not existential—questions about the purpose and worth of criticism in the age of WordPress blogospheres and a perceived democratization of criticism.

This edited anthology seeks to understand the current state of film criticism and how it has developed. It aims to examine the challenges that the Internet offers to the evaluation, promotion, and explanation of artistic works as well as digital technology’s impact on traditional concerns about the disposability or permanence of cultural criticism. The collection will furthermore contain a historical dimension that investigate how the status of the critic has changed in the last fifty years and to what extent critics can still intervene into current popular discourse about arts and culture.

The editors invite essays that expand, recast, and critically engage with some of these discussions.

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

--case studies which deliberate on the permanence or disposability of criticism in the digital age

--historical case studies on certain critics, critical schools, publications or other developments that preview or help us understand the current developments in film criticism

--case studies of non-Anglophone critics, critical schools, newspapers, magazines or other developments

--case studies which account for the persistent gendered and/or class-based economies that inflect contemporary film criticism

--comparative case studies with other media (theatre, visual art, music, or literature) or studies of critics who have appraised film through the lenses or in parallel to other media

--case studies which acknowledge the various forms by which film criticism has been transmitted (print, radio, television, online)

--comparative case studies that show how the status of the critic has—or has not—changed with the advent of digital technologies

Although the editors welcome broader theoretical treatments of these issues, they especially encourage well-researched chapters that explore what is at stake in film criticism’s digital age via in-depth case studies.

Please send a short abstract (250-400 words) with a brief author biography to Dr. Mattias Frey ( and Dr. Cecilia Sayad ( by 1 December 2012. The editors are currently in contact with university and other major presses for this anthology, and contributors are expected to submit the completed essays by 1 September 2013.


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