CFP: [Film] Accidents in Film and Media: Special issue of Discourse

full name / name of organization: 
James Leo Cahill

Accidents in Film and Media

In The Accident of Art (2005), Paul Virilio proposes that “as soon as there
is invention, there is accident,” and that the accident “reveals something
important that we would not otherwise be able to perceive.” Writing of one
momentous invention, Mary Ann Doane identifies cinema’s driving impulse as
a “curious merger of contingency and structure,” suggesting that the moving
image participates in the taming of the unpredictable while simultaneously
reinforcing its power.

Taking these provocations and paradoxes as points of departure, this
special issue of Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and
Culture seeks original essays that examine the “something important”
revealed by accidents, contingency, and the unexpected specific to media as
technologies, expressive forms, and apparatuses of social power. What sorts
of histories emerge when we treat media technologies as potential time
bombs? media “texts” as veritable train wrecks? and ephemeral traces and
transmissions as traumatic scars? How do forces of chance and contingency
impact regimes of representation and mediated modes of perception? What
political forms do the accidental and the unexpected inspire, imagine, or
actualize? How do they intersect or unsettle questions of control,
security, risk, wager, preemption, etc.?

In an age marked by increasingly intensified calculation, precision, and
the capacity for global destruction, what is the status of chance and
contingency? How do contemporary concepts such as viral media,
“democratization,” and ubiquity coexist with the digital promise of total
numeric control of recorded images and sounds? What is the place of medium
specificity and convergence in these discussions, and how have
technological alterations (e.g., film-historical developments such as
sound, color, and digital recording media) affected the relationship of
media (as archives, repetitions, reproductions) to the unexpected?
Moreover, how might notions of the accidental, the contingent, and the
unexpected also inform the methodologies one uses to think about and
interpret systems of representation and media?

The editors encourage submissions that inspect the unexpected in film and
media (from print culture to digital media) from a breadth of disciplinary
and methodological perspectives and invite work that focuses on diverse
geographical locales and historical moments. Articles should be about
7,500-8,000 words in length, notes included, and formatted according to the
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. The submission deadline is 30 June
2008. Please email all queries and submissions using the subject header
“Accidents” to: For more information on
Discourse see:

Issue Editors:
René Thoreau Bruckner
James Leo Cahill
Greg Siegel

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Received on Fri Mar 21 2008 - 08:43:28 EST