CFP: [Film] Expressionism & Its Discontents (8/10/07; SCMS, 3/6/08-3/9/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Dion Tubrett
contact email: 

German Expressionist cinema offered an aesthetic that though innovative
and suggestive mise-en-scene invigorated Postwar Germany’s film industry
while creating an iconography of dread within the horror genre. Yet the
strength of this aesthetic did not contain itself solely to one genre,
country, or era. Despite the brief tenure of Expressionist cinema in its
native Germany, it became appropriated and rearticulated within the
Hollywood studio system. The Universal horror film cycle of the 1930s and
later the film noir style of the 1940s and 1950s owe a great debt to the
talent and ingenuity of the German filmmakers who defined this aesthetic.
In contemporary Hollywood, filmmakers such as Tim Burton and the Coen
brothers have absorbed Expressionism shaping their cinematic visions. Yet
where Kracauer outlined how German film of this period was shaped by the
socio-political context, acting as a visual manifestation of cultural
anxieties, later examples of Expressionism do not necessarily share this
same contextual power. How do current uses of the Expressionist aesthetic
successfully reflect socio-cultural anxieties? Has the contemporary
American horror film abandoned Expressionism, and if so, in favour of
what? How do we speak meaningfully of a style that is so pervasive yet so
culturally specific? Is Expressionism defined solely by its visual
aesthetic or are there other markers? These thoughts and questions frame
this panel.

This panel seeks essays on the influence of German Expressionist cinema
in Classical and contemporary Hollywood. Possible topics/areas may
include, but are not limited to:

- Universal horror cycle: Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.
- RKO horror cycle: Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, etc.
- Close analyses of specific films (and their relation to Expressionism)
- Expressionism and auteurs: Murnau, Lang, Hitchcock, Ulmer, Lewton,
Welles, etc.
- Expressionism and genre/style: horror, melodrama, film noir, B film,
- The role/effect of Expressionism in contemporary cinema
- Expressionism and film theory

Please e-mail proposals (200-300 words) including a brief bio as a Word
document to no later than Friday 10 August 2007. I will
provide notification of receipt. Please review SCMS guidelines prior to

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Received on Thu Aug 02 2007 - 14:04:13 EDT