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Das Wunderkino: A Cinematic Cabinet of Curiosities
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12th Annual Northeast Historic Film Summer Symposium
Die Wunderkammer (German for “the wonder-room” or “the miracle chamber”) was merely one incarnation of the phenomenon of the “cabinet of curiosities” that first appeared in Europe in the 16th century. The cabinet of curiosities was based in the collection of objects, specimens and artifacts that inspired curiosity and wonder, and sometimes defied the terms classification. In many ways, the Cabinet of Curiosities was a precursor to the modern museum.
The 2011 Northeast Historic Film (NHF) Summer Symposium revisits the idea, collecting and displaying the “unusual” with a conference theme aimed to create a cinematic cabinet of curiosities. Although amateur films are often conceived of as mundane visual accounts of family vacations and birthday parties, those scholars, archivists, filmmakers, and documentarians who study amateur films know otherwise. The theme of the NHF symposium considers the broad and unusual dimensions of amateur film: how amateur and non-commercial films are a source of curiosity and wonder that inspires attention and inquiry, and how amateur film struggles with the familiar and powerful traditions of cinema studies that often overshadow our understanding of non-conventional and non-commercial film. Das Wunderkino (“the wonder-cinema”) represents a desire to examine and discuss moving images that ignite our curiosity and engagement, and help us to rethink questions of creativity, the unusual, the bizarre and the unexpected found in amateur and non-commercial films. We invite papers and presentations that will collectively assemble a “cinematic cabinet of curiosities” that will inform and expand our understanding of the wildness and weirdness of amateur film. We encourage participants to incorporate interesting moving image excerpts as part of their presentations. NHF houses a 125-seat cinema with 35mm, 16mm, videotape, and DVD projection.
The NHF Summer Symposium is a multi-disciplinary gathering devoted to the history, theory, and preservation of amateur and nontheatrical moving images. The Symposium is noted for bringing together archivists, scholars, and artists in an intimate setting. NHF is located in Bucksport, a town of 5,000 on the coast of Maine (for more info on NHF, please visit: http://www.oldfilm.org). Presenters have 30-45 minutes in which to deliver their paper and engage in discussion with their colleagues. The symposium is open to archivists, artists and scholars from all disciplines. Please be advised that NHF is a non-profit organization. Unfortunately, we do not have resources to fund travel and lodging for conference presenters and participants. All presenters and participants must register for the symposium.
Please send 250-500 word abstracts outlining your paper ideas to the symposium organizers at the address below. We prefer e-mail submissions. We are happy to discuss your presentation ideas with you in advance of a formal submission. The Symposium Program Committee will begin reviewing proposals on April 8, 2011 and will finalize the program by May 1, 2011. Please send proposals and inquiries to: Symposium@oldfilm.org