The Cinematic City; 29 October - 2 Novermber; Deadline for submission - 1 June, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Film and History Conference

Much has been written about the development of the modern, post-industrial city in relation to the evolution of new technologies of visual representation. The moving image, in a sense, could not have been born anywhere other than amidst the hustle and bustle of metropolitan existence. The merging of urban theory with film studies has produced fascinating work examining this relationship; exploring the ways that film portrays the city, as well as the ways in which the city animates and influences the world of film.

This area will continue that work. We invite 20-minute papers that investigate how films capture an affective urban topography, as well as explorations of the ways in which metropolitan cartographies and urban environments are transformed/enhanced/mediated by their portrayal on screen. What are the filmic properties of the city? How are the ebbs and flows of cities articulated in cinema? How does cinema (de)territorialize the city? How do we begin to conceptualize the journey of the cinematic city from documentary footage of the Lumière Brothers to CGI cities in contemporary blockbusters?

Possible topics/films may include, but are by no means limited to:

* Urban crowds and mobs
* City's empty spaces – abandoned buildings, dysfunctional docks, graveyards
* Postcolonial city – the city in the Indian, Chinese, Korean, Nigerian, Latin American cinema
* Criminal city – what is peculiar about a screenscape inhabited by detectives and criminals? How do "masters of suspense" mobilize the city?
* Post-war city – the cityscape in Italian Neo-realist films, New York and in post 9/11 cinema and Third World cities in the aftermath of the "war on terror"
* The city in documentary films – city symphonies in the cinema of Vertov, Reggio; cities in cinema cinéma vérité
* Urban soundscapes – noise, traffic, silence, chatter, footsteps, technological sounds (phones rings, television, fax machines, trains)
* Urban architecture – monuments, offices, malls, apartment complexes
* Revolutionary city – How do filmmakers imagine rebellious metropolises? Consider Odessa in Battleship Potemkin, Havana in Memories of Underdevelopment, Algiers in Battle of Algiers
* Petrified city – what is the city's role in horror films? Consider, for instance, Tokyo in Godzilla, Seoul in The Host, Paris in The Tenant, and New York in Rosemary's Baby.
* Nocturnal City ­­– the city at night and the enigma of gaslight, shadows, darkness
* The divided city – cinema's treatment of spatial, gendered, racial disruptions
* Cities of tomorrow – what fantasies, dystopic nightmares, desires orchestrate urban futurescapes in films like Bladerunner, The Matrix, Hunger Games, Her

Proposals for complete panels (three related presentations) are also welcome, but they must include an abstract and contact information, including an e-mail address, for each presenter. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (

Please e-mail your 200-word proposal by 1 June 2014, to the area chairs:

Megha Anwer
Purdue University

Matt Varner
Purdue University