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Things of Love and the Love of Things (11/1/09; 11/11-14/10)
full name / name of organization:
Cynthia Miller/Film & History
Call for Papers
As Siegfried Kracauer noted in his Theory of Film, “a long procession of unforgettable objects has passed across the screen – objects which stand out as protagonists and all but overshadow the rest of the cast.” Film, as scholars have often pointed out, has a unique capacity to invest inanimate objects with a significance that far exceeds their quotidian value. The expressive potential opened up by the medium’s careful treatment of “things” is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the cinematic exploration of love, and of love’s varied associations with desire, elation, obsession, and loss. The fact that film mobilizes the tangible and concrete in its engagement with such an abstract, often enigmatic human emotion speaks to an important affinity between medium and material object that this area seeks to examine. How can things so powerfully convey the facets of love that dialogue, action, and genre conventions cannot articulate? How has film used objects to portray the realities and myths of love, as well as to contradict our expectations of it? What are the stakes involved in transferring such expressive weight to things, creating obsession, and perhaps, fetish? How are the answers to these questions influenced by historical and cultural context?
This area, comprising multiple panels, welcomes papers examining the intersection of love and objects in individual films, or within specific genres or historical periods; it also invites projects that discuss the role of a single object in various cinematic contexts. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:
• Things that play an important narrative role or that serve as material symbols of love within the diegesis, like the camellias in Now, Voyager and Reese’s Pieces in E.T.
Please send 200 word proposals and any questions via email to: