SCMS 2015 panel CfP: "Screen Acting: Beyond Star Studies"

full name / name of organization: 
Dan Leberg / Concordia Unversity
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SCMS 2015 CFP - “Screen Acting: Beyond Star Studies”

“The instance of acting is exertion of force, expressed with strength and fluency; the accomplishment of performance is eloquence, in passing, while discovering the exerted forces.”
— Jörg Sternagel, Deborah Levitt, Dieter Mersch (2012)

This panel seeks papers that will consider acting and actors from the performer outwards, rather explain away screen performances as objects of semiotic intrigue.

The craft of acting is practiced in a much broader community than most scholarly work on movie stars implies: 99% of the world’s screen actors are not and will never be stars, and yet they still act. The actor’s work exists beyond her celebrity status, and yet this work is rarely considered within critical studies.

Although screen actors must work within the boundaries of film form, the Kuleshovian reduction of an actor to a piece of animate mise-en-scene feels insufficient and, frankly, draconian in that such a logic of over-determination quashes any consideration of the actor’s force. Similarly, criticism that focuses on an actor’s performance as an enacted cultural paradigm, such as race or gender, risks equating an actor’s eloquence with her narrative obligations without necessarily questioning what informs that eloquence. If, on some fundamental level, all actors interpret, activate, embody, mimic, tell simultaneous lies and truths, etc., as part of their craft, how should film scholars approach an actor’s work critically?

Possible topics include:
• Mimesis and self-expression
• The methods and goals of screen actor training
• The impact of the acting industry on auditions, performances, and training
• Actors as perceivers and empathizers
• An ethnographic approach to actor/acting culture
• Global acting and performance traditions
• Acting work onscreen and in other media
• Animated actors, digital media, and “cine-thespians”
• Acting as a hermeneutic practice
• The (in)commensurability of acting and critical theory
• Acting in non-starring roles
• Non-professional actors onscreen

Please send your application to Dan Leberg at by August 15. Following SCMS's guidelines, please include 1) your full name and academic affiliation (email address that you will use when registering on the SCMS website), 2) title of paper, 3) a summary no longer than 2500 characters including spaces and hard returns, 4) 5 complete bibliographic sources, and 5) a short academic biography of no longer than 500 characters.

Successful applicants will be notified by August 20.

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