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CFP: Cinephilia/Cinephobia – New Mediations of Desire and Disgust

A big “Shout-Out!” to Dominic Leppla (PhD) and Juan Llamas-Rodriguez (MA), who have already been accepted to present at the conference. Matthias Mushinski, a Concordia Film Studies undergraduate student, has also been selected.

Deadline: September 5, 2012 [UPDATED]

University of Pittsburgh, November 9-11, 2012

Hosted by the Film Studies Graduate Student Organization (FSGSO). Keynote by Christian Keathley, Professor of Film and Media Culture at Middlebury College.

Over the last decade, academic and popular film institutions have reignited debates surrounding cinephilia and its discontents. Recent pieces in Cinema Journal, Film Comment, as well as essay collections (2005’s Cinephilia: Movies, Love, and Memory) and monographs (Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 2010 Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition), in modes both nostalgic and speculative, are (re)considering cinephilia not simply as love of the moving image, but as heterogeneous desires for cinema’s fragments, peculiarities, materialities, and affects. In other words, we can be certain that cinephilic (and cinephobic) attitudes and practices are quite alive today but for whom, in what forms, and to what ends?

Attending these critical conversations are ever-encroaching aversions toward cinema, including institutional prohibitions, censorship against filming and exhibition, modes of media refusal, and institutional objections to the moving image’s dissemination and preservation. If cinephilia has long raised tensions between academic and popular critical voices, between preservation and fetishism, and between film appreciation and critique, how are these tensions recovered or recast in contemporary film and media studies particularly in light of digital media, new categories and avenues of criticism, and media studies present investment in affective response? Susan Sontag famously expressed the joy of cinematic immersion as a kidnapping that requires the physical experience of a darkened theater; how, then, does cinephobia stand to transform a desire for cinematic experience into a revolt against the powers of the cinematic apparatus and its affective control?

Following Marijke de Valck’s assertion that cinephilia endures precisely because it forms a bridge between the biographical and the theoretical, the singular and the general, the fragment and the whole, the incomplete and the complete, and the individual and the collective, our conference invites presentations that consider the enduring importance of cinephilia and cinephobia to film and media studies: both how these ideas have shaped and articulated our complex relations to moving images, and how they continue to raise new questions for our field.

Possible topics may include:

  1. Cinephilia/phobia through digital media (mash-ups and remixes; GIFs; Twitter, Tumblr, and online community)

  2. Cinephilic/phobic expressions in TV and other visual media (art, installation, fashion)

  3. Cinephilia/phobia and video games

  4. Desire, disgust, and pornography

  5. Cinephilic/phobic expressions in non-visual fields (literature, music, philosophy)

  6. Queer spectatorship, historiography, and affect

  7. Transnational and subcultural cinephilias/phobias

  8. Affective modes of spectatorship, fan practices and fictions

  9. Obsession with and/or distrust of medium and site specificity (VHS, Super 16mm, theaters and exhibition practices, protest and destruction)

  10. Endangered and extinct media technology and practices

  11. Desire, disgust, and archival work

  12. Historical and contemporary forms of film criticism (from Cahiers to the video essay)

  13. Institutional and underground modes of exhibition (film festivals, award systems, art house, 3D)

  14. Phobia from within: media boycotts and oppositional viewing practices

  15. Phobia from without: prohibition and censorship, fair use practices

  16. Cinephilia/phobia as methodology, ideology, and/or pathology

  17. Cinephilia/phobia and film pedagogy

We welcome approaches from a range of disciplines, including but not limited to: Film and Media studies, Art and Art History, Visual Culture, Feminist and Queer Studies, Communication, Critical Theory, Literature, Musicology, and Philosophy.

Interested graduate students may submit abstracts (maximum 300 words) along with institutional/departmental affiliations and current email to For more information, please contact the FSGSO by email at the above or visit their website.

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