CFP: [Film] Cinematic Modernism and Medium Specificity (5/3/08, MSA X, 11/13-11/16/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Heather Fielding
contact email: 

The last ten years have seen a resurgence of critical interest in the
interpenetrations of modernism and cinema, with the publication of Laura
Marcus’s The Tenth Muse (2007), Susan McCabe’s Cinematic Modernism (2005),
David Trotter’s Cinema and Modernism (2007), and a collection of essays
from the modernist journal Close Up (1998). This criticism has produced new
readings of modernist writing about film and collaborations with
filmmakers. At the same time, it has also resurrected a provocative and
highly contested argument: that some modernist literature functions “like”
film, and is thematically, formally, or structurally “cinematic.” Critics
continue to find analytical power in this strategy, using it to explain
negation in Maurice Blanchot, consciousness in Henry James, rhythm in
Gertrude Stein, point of view in Virginia Woolf, and displacement in Jean
Toomer. However, this analogical or homological move has been maligned for
neglecting the specificity of literary and filmic media, as material
artifacts and as particular cultural, social, and institutional
constructions. Trotter, for example, calls such analogical criticism “more
of a rhetorical maneuver than an argument.”

There is new urgency for critics of modernism to rethink the relationship
between filmic and literary media in the first half of the twentieth
century. With the continuing emergence of new forms of digital media and
“intermedial” experimentation in our own historical moment, the very
category of the medium has been rendered deeply problematic, perhaps even
untenable. Modernist scholarship will be driven to rethink the nature of
the medium in the modernist era in order to participate in new or renewed
critical conversations about indexicality, new media, medium specificity,
and intermedia. This panel will present new readings of cinematic modernism
in literature and film and critical reflections on the aesthetic,
theoretical, and institutional stakes of the very category.

Possible topics include:
reconsidering “montage”
indexicality, embodiment, immediacy, or materiality
point of view, the close up, and slow motion

Please send 300 word abstracts and 2-3 sentence scholarly bio by May 3 to
Heather Fielding at

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Received on Tue Apr 08 2008 - 17:49:24 EDT