CFP: [Graduate] Cinema, Nature, Ecology

full name / name of organization: 
Scott Richmond
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Cinema, Nature, Ecology
University of Chicago
Committee on Cinema and Media Studies
Graduate Student Conference
April 3 & 4, 2009

300-word paper abstracts due January 4, 2009. Please send abstracts by
email to

For up-to-date conference information, please see our website:

Recent films such as An Inconvenient Truth and The Day After Tomorrow
reflect urgent and ongoing public discourse on global warming, natural
and human ecology, and green activism. When we consider not only
filmmaking, but other immersive media (from the virtual worlds of
Second Life to large-scale installations from artists like Christo and
Jean-Claude or Tadashi Kawamata), it is clear that the impact of these
practices on the environmental imagination is profound. However, this
timely discourse should not obscure the rich tradition concerned with
the relation between cinema, nature, and the environment. From the
beginnings of film theory and film practice, the cinema has been
imagined as transformative for the relationship between humanity and
nature. This transformation is at the heart of this conference.

Cinema, Nature, Ecology will bring together scholars working on a
diverse but deeply interrelated set of questions in the domains of the
history, theory, and practice of cinema and other experiential media.
We especially welcome papers that will engage with the transformative
power of these practices, and investigate how these transformations --
whether psychological, biological, geological, or physical -- have
been conceptualized at different points in time. How should we think
of cinema and other technologies within the context of ecological and
evolutionary theory? What is an environment? What sorts of
possibilities for re-imagining "environment" are on offer in immersive
technologies such as cinema, the panorama, and virtual environments?
How have different media technologies, from pre-cinematic optical toys
to new media practices, changed the possibilities for interactions
between humans and nature?

We are proud to announce that our keynote speaker for Cinema, Nature,
Ecology will be Hanna Rose Shell, Society of Fellows, Harvard
University, and assistant professor of Science & Technology Studies,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Shell has a book
forthcoming in 2009 with Zone Books, Hide and Seek: Camouflage,
Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance. She is also a practicing
filmmaker and media artist, including such works as her video
installation Aqua Kinema (commissioned in 2005 by ZKM) and her
24-minute experimental documentary Secondhand (Pepe) (2007).

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Nature and film theory

    * Cinema and the (re)mediation of nature in classical film theory
(Balazs, Epstein, Bazin, Kracauer, etc.)
    * Natural history, mimesis, and the Frankfurt School and critical theory
    * Cinema, ontology, history, and geological deep time
    * Vitalism and the cinema (Bergson, Deleuze)

Nature and cinema practice

    * Nature, special effect, and spectacle
    * Landscape, aesthetics, and nature in cinema
    * Animals and the natural world in animation (Disney, Miyazaki)
    * Environmental disasters/utopias (The Day After Tomorrow,
Jurassic Park, Baraka)

Ecology, the environment, and cinema

    * Ecological psychology, phenomenology, and media aesthetics
    * Ecocritical approaches to film and media
    * Large-format cinema, surround sound, immersion, and
environmental technologies
    * Cinema, architecture, and the built environment (e.g. Situationism)

Cinema, media, and nature

    * Visual media, perceptual devices, experimental psychology, and
    * Aesthetics and imaging technologies (electron microscopy,
medical imaging, astronomical imaging)
    * Virtual environments and virtual environmentalism (from
first-person shooters to Second Life and beyond)

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Received on Mon Oct 20 2008 - 13:02:07 EDT