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CFP: University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate Film Conference, “Limits of Cinema/Cinema Limit

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

When: September 27-28, 2019

Keynote: Jeffrey Sconce (Northwestern University)

The cinematic medium has been historically shaped through several negotiations with its own limits and those imposed on it. Regulatory scrutiny of the moving image began as early as the peepshows of the Kinetoscope parlors. Formal censorship was soon implemented in many countries as a legal infrastructure serving in the moral guidance of youth and other demographics deemed vulnerable to irresponsible depictions of crimes and sex, as well as political propaganda.

Over the past decade scholars of film and media have signposted the materiality and mobility of media images and objects by resituating the question of the juridical in the contemporary media landscape. The seemingly unlimited proliferation of images across media platforms raises questions as to whether anything and everything can now be shown, and what means are acceptable in identifying, evaluating, and constraining various forms of harm that media inflict. How do regulatory practices simultaneously threaten to bound media and generate new praxes that hoodwink and overwhelm all frameworks of ordered statecraft and corporate ownership? We encourage applicants to engage with the materiality and affects of the sensory infrastructure of cinema past and present. `Limits of Cinema / Cinema Limited?’ hopes to bring together scholarship that builds on existing interdisciplinary approaches to paradoxes of law and media.

The 2019 edition of the University of Pittsburgh’s Film and Media Graduate Student Conference invites papers that examine the limits of cinema and cinema as a limited object and image in a broad sense, from the powers of censorship to the practices of media piracy and the traffic in contraband, from policies of preservation and access to new forms of media activism, from the formation of media publics and counter publics to the algorithms of social media.

Proposals might include but are not limited to the following topics:

  1. Legal Gaze as Infrastructure and Institutions

  2. Film Rating Systems: MPAA (USA), National Centre for Cinema (France), British Board of Film Classification (United Kingdom), Central Board of Film Certification (India), etc.

  3. Contemporary Censorship Debates (re. gore, extreme cinema, porn)

  4. Auteurs and Controversy (Lars Von Trier, Gaspar Noé, Michael Haneke, Takashi Miike, Larry Clark, Quentin Tarantino, Anurag Kashyap, Deepa Mehta, etc.)

  5. Control of Film, Television and Media Images

  6. Debates on Obscenity, Sleaze, Transgression and Taboo

  7. Theorizing Affect, Desires, Guilt, Pleasures, and the Sensory Infrastructure

  8. Actors of Non-Official Censorship (parental and/or religious associations)

  9. Pre-Code Hollywood

  10. Hollywood Censored

  11. Non-theatrical Networks of Distribution and Circulation (streaming platforms, festivals, fandom and cult venues)

  12. Keepers of Morality (moralizing in cinema and gatekeeping)

  13. Limits of the Body (figurations and images)

  14. Copyright and Fair Use vs Creative Commons

  15. Histories of Contraband and Bootleg

  16. The Modern Media Pirate

  17. The Cinephile as the Technophile

  18. Archives and the Collector

  19. Bastard Films and Web-Based Orphan Media Files

  20. Fantasies ofunlimited cinema

Interested graduate students may submit abstracts (maximum 300 words)- along with institutional/departmental affiliations and current email- to by May 30, 2019.

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