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Writers in Love (3/1/10; 11/11-14/10)
full name / name of organization:
Cynthia J. Miller/Film & History
Call for Papers
AREA: “Writers in Love / Writers and Love / Writing and Love in Film and Television”
The author may be dead, but they still fall in love. It is somewhat ironic that, a couple of decades after “the death of the author” was pronounced in literary theory, a spate of films have appeared devoted to the writer as a special kind of character. Many of these films focus on the love life, emotional involvements or sexual adventures of the author in question as a way of imposing narrative and thematic cohesiveness on the material of the writer’s life, humanizing or even sentimentalizing the writer, and investing the potentially academic exercise of literary biography with the popular appeal of romance.
While some filmic treatments employ the romance dimension of the writer’s life to demystify the extraordinary figure of the author, many reaffirm the romantic mystique of the literary creator as an exceptional being held to a different standard of conduct. In some films the shoddy behaviour, emotional shortcomings, and amorous misdemeanours or even outrages of the writer are seemingly extenuated by the rigours of the writing life or excused in light of his or her literary achievement. By contrast, of course, other films treat their writer-subject as estimable in his or her devotion to writing and to those closest to him or her.
Perhaps the central questions of this area are: What special insight into the nature of love does the writer or the writer’s experience offer? What difference does the activity or vocation of writing, or the phenomenon of the written work make in the representation of love? How are the love interests, affairs and relationships of writers constructed or understood as different from those of non-writers? What role does the writer’s craft or vocation play in the narrative of his or her emotional connections and bonds with others?
This area, comprising multiple panels, welcomes papers that address the various ways in which the representation of love, desire and passion in film and television is affected when writers or the works of writers are involved; papers on both historical and fictional writers, and on readers are solicited.
Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:
Writers in their eras (Shakespeare in Love, The Libertine, Becoming Jane, Neverland, Wilde, Possession, Tom and Viv, Little Ashes, Sylvia, Iris, Shadowlands, Beloved Infidel)
The writer and dangerous, forbidden or transgressive love (Dreamchild, Wilde, Before Night Falls)
Triangles and threesomes (Henry and June, Carrington)
Rejections, frustrations and failures in writing / publishing and in love (Sideways, The Squid and the Whale)
Mentors, protegees, rivals, colleagues: love, ambivalence, betrayal, competition; the overriding love of literature (Finding Forrester, Henry Fool, Reprise, Wonder Boys, Pandaemonium)
Writers’ entanglements with their characters: the writer’s construction of and involvement in the love lives, affairs, sexual experiences and emotional attachments of his or her characters; the transposition of relationships from life to art (Stranger than Fiction, The Singing Detective, Adaptation, Providence, Deconstructing Harry)
Readers (even scholars) and love, reading and love, and the love of reading (The Reader, Possession, The Jane Austen Book Club, Dead Poets Society)
Writers and their fans and acolytes (Satan’s Brew, Misery)
The comedy of television / show biz writers in and out of love (Manhattan, 30 Rock, The Dick Van Dyke Show)
Please send your 200-word proposal by e-mail to the area chair:
Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (www.uwosh.edu/filmandhistory).