CFP: Theorizing Character in Documentary (Visible Evidence XX)

I have decided to submit to Visible Evidence this year and am interested in proposing a panel. Let me know if you are interested.

Call for papers
Proposed panel for Visible Evidence XX (Stockholm, August 15-18, 2013)

Theorizing Character in Contemporary Nonfiction
To further one of the conference themes of “Affect, Agency, and Social Mobilization” I am proposing a panel theorizing “character” (as an idea, a narrational device, a conceptual category) in documentary film, with an emphasis on contemporary documentary. This may cover a number of areas: character driven documentary, "new documentary," reality TV, or any relevant strain in contemporary nonfiction. I've included the conference CFP below for guidance.

If interested, please contact me at ccagle AT temple DOT edu. The conference deadline is end of January, but I'd like to hear from anyone interested within the next month, by January 5, in order to gauge interest and to let everyone plan accordingly.

From the Conference call:
Affect, Agency and Social Mobilization
In Recording Reality, Desiring the Real (2011), Elizabeth Cowie defines the documentary as “an embodied storytelling that, while a narrativizing of reality in images and sounds, engages us with the actions and feelings of social actors, like characters in fiction”. Highlighting the importance of emotional engagement with the seen, Cowie proposes a return to the concept of identification in order to understand how, as “a matter of knowledge” “we must identify with facts and recognize their meanings”. Inspired by Cowie and others’ approaches to “documentary desire”, we propose, for Visible Evidence XX, a special attention to the consequences of the interdisciplinary affective turn, or die Wende zur Emotion, for the study of documentary cinema.
While inviting further theorizing of documentary viewing beyond problematic dualisms between rational understanding and emotional response, the affective turn in cinema and media studies also occasions a rethinking of the debates around instrumentalization of affect. It urges to re-examine the legacies of ‘committed documentary’ and, more broadly, the variety of affective rhetoric (from melodrama, to shock, trauma and spectacle) in documentary practices and, conversely, uses of documentary for mobilizing affect. Whereas historical studies of affective mobilization often have focused on state propaganda, we especially encourage investigations of historical and contemporary cases of mobilizing affect for political agency and social activism. These may include the extensive, ubiquitous documentation of ongoing social and political actions, movements and insurrections as well as the uses of documentary practices to articulate contemporary and historical structures of feeling: experiences of injury, hurt and violence, vulnerability and precariousness. This occasions, furthermore, investigations of affective strategies for preventing engagement as identification.


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