[Update] Battlegrounds: Sites and Sights of Conflict, University of Pittsburgh, October 14-16, 2011

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Film Studies Graduate Student Organization (FSGSO)

Battlegrounds: Sites and Sights of Conflict
University of Pittsburgh, October 14-16, 2011
Hosted by the Film Studies Graduate Student Organization (FSGSO)

Keynote by Stephen Prince, professor of Theatre and Cinema at Virginia Tech and author of Firestorm: American Film in the Age of Terrorism (Columbia, 2009), Classical Film Violence: Designing and Regulating Brutality in Hollywood Cinema, 1930-1968 (Rutgers, 2003), Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies (University of Texas, 1998), and The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa (Princeton, 1991).

For over a century, visual media have played a crucial role in how war and political conflicts are waged, presented, represented, and digested in sites around the globe. Film (in particular) has had a storied and fraught history in relation to conflict: it has commonly been used an instrument of propaganda, distraction, and entertainment, yet has also served as a tool for documentation and education. Our contemporary memories and perceptions of war have been filtered through the cinema, which has provided a visual means for creating coherent narratives out of the often senseless combat of cultural disputes. As political unrest persists around the world, new visual media have in many ways usurped cinema's privileged role in confronting and re-presenting conflict. Specifically, as new visual media develop, they are commandeered as artillery for increasingly amorphous battlegrounds, further muddling the line that distinguishes representation from participation. Tellingly, the U.S. Army and Hezbollah have both developed first-person shooter video games, the Israeli Defense Force maintained a YouTube channel to manage their public relations during "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza in 2008, and "soldiers" utilize video game-like consoles to pilot unmanned predator drones in countries thousands of miles away. Moreover, if "swaying hearts and minds" has become one the principal strategies for achieving objectives in modern wars, then the visual has become the chief means of gaining access to those sympathies.

Our conference welcomes a broad range of approaches on the ways in which visual media both directly and indirectly affect the cultural experience of war. While we expect that visual media theory and history will provide particular insight into our concerns, we invite all papers performing theoretical, historical, hermeneutical and/or other types analysis of visual media subject matter ranging from mainstream to marginal cultural forms. Moreover, by examining sites of conflict including but not limited to historical battlefields, contemporary areas of political strife, and the imaginary/allegorical combat arenas of fictional skirmishes, we adopt a broad conception of "war" to better understand the role that visual media has played (and continues to play) in shaping and reshaping sites of conflict.

Topics of potential essays include, but are not limited to:

* Cultivating ethnic conflict through visual propaganda
* The aesthetics of military recruitment campaigns
* The use of streaming video in contemporary political conflicts
* War reporting in the age of the 24-hour news cycle
* Memorializing battles and war through reenactment films
* Cinematic treatment of pre-cinematic wars
* Hollywood at war and war in popular culture
* War photography and documentaries and the cultural memory of global conflict
* Video games and virtual battles
* Ideologically charged depictions of militants across media
* "War porn" and the post-modern battlefield
* The impact of amateur digital photography amongst soldiers
* Filmic battle scenes and the spectacle of catastrophe
* Dealing with traumatic historical events through fiction Films
* Comic depictions of tragic conflicts
* The changing front line in the age of digital globalization
* Transnational identities and glocal conflicts
* War in and over mass media
* Representations of 9/11
* Guerrilla warfare, guerrilla filmmaking

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to pittfilmgradconference@gmail.com by July 1st, 2011. Please include paper title, your name, institutional/departmental affiliation and email. Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes. Open to graduate students only.