Hollywood's (m)Other(ly) Love: (post)Freudian Readings and Approaches (3/1/10; 11/11-14/10)

full name / name of organization: 
Cynthia J. Miller/Film & History
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Call for Papers:

"Hollywood's (m)Other(ly) Love: (post)Freudian Readings and Approaches"

2010 Film & History Conference: Representations of Love in Film and Television
November 11-14, 2010
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee
First Round Deadline: November 1, 2009

AREA: Hollywood's (m)Other(ly) Love: (post)Freudian Readings and Approaches

One of the wonders of the movies is that they lend themselves to referencing the pre-lingual stage of human development – that time before language defines and limits our understandings – by recreating in many ways the primal contexts, sensations, and emotions experienced during the processes of separation from the maternal Object. Given that this stage of development exemplifies maternal love in a visceral, body-centered way that is unencumbered by language, uncanny (m)Otherly love retains an indelible effect on the psyche of audiences and filmmakers, alike. The focus of this area is to identify and explore these visual and aural references and effects in the movies, particularly in the ways that concern the imaging of (m)Otherly love or love for the (m)Other.

An example of a Hollywood movie that (re)presents body-centered and pre-lingual maternal love is Spielberg's Minority Report. At the beginning of the film, one of the very first images associated with the protagonist (portrayed by Tom Cruise) is his overtly pregnant office manager. His first words in the film are directed to her and reference her pregnancy. At the end of the film, the last time we see the protagonist is in the company of his very visibly pregnant wife. In presenting this bookend set of parallel images, Spielberg's film opens itself for discussion in terms of referencing the body-centered love of or from the (m)Other. While other Hollywood-associated films may often be less overt, they remain as significant in their display of (m)Other love within the sphere of the human developmental stage prior to speaking subjecthood.

A few questions pertinent to this area might include: How do mainstream films and television visually, aurally and by means of the narrative reference the uncanny love of, and for, the (m)Other? How do mainstream movies and TV explore the unheimlich nature of primary narcissism in the visual and aural arena of maternal semiotics on the screen? How do television and the commercial cinematic apparatus tap into the psycho-linguistic registers and theories suggested by Freud and then developed further by disciples in his wake? Panels and papers might consider any psycho-linguistic and semiotic approach that in any way reference Freud and/or his legacy-theorists that include Lacan, Kristeva Zizek, and their wide range of contemporaries, admirers and detractors.

This area, comprising multiple panels, welcomes the submission of both individual papers and complete panels, dealing with TV-shows (Nip/Tuck, CSI and such body-centered shows), feature films (work by Campion, Spielberg, Coppola [Stoker's Dracula], and other directors associated in some aspect with Hollywood and the commercial cinematic apparatus). Any approach to interpreting the concept of Hollywood's (m)Other(ly) love in terms of Freud and/or his disciples, however broad, are welcome.

Topics may include but are not limited to the following:

The loss of primal (m)Otherly love in terms of Lacan's mirror stage and the Law of the Father, in films from the hey-day of the Hollywood self-censorship of the 1940s when controls were placed on explicit erotica and graphic violence.

Kristeva's (m)Otherly love in contrast to Freud/Lacan's Law of the Father, in films such as Clint Eastwood's The Unforgiven in which the dead wife/mother image serves as the guiding light and extra-logical trigger for the male protagonist's actions.

Kristeva's adaptation of Plato's chora as a womb-like space. Films that imply the (m)Otherly love delineated by the womb might feature nurturing environments from which permeate the extra-logical productivity of chaos, such as multiple versions of Time Machine and Journey to the Center of the Earth, as well as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The self-sacrificing (m)Other: Films that explore the nature of nurturing and the visceral chaos of nostalgia, in melodramas such as Stella Dallas and Imitation of Life (which contrasts the self-sacrificing mother with the successful self-centered mother).

The Phallic (m)Other: the smothering, killing-machine (m)Other in films such as the Alien series and The Thirteenth Warrior.

Please send your 200-word proposal by e-mail to the area chair:

Jaime Bihlmeyer, Area Chair
"Hollywood's (m)Other(ly) Love: (post)Freudian Readings and Approaches"
Email: jaimebihlmeyer@missouristate.edu

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).