CFP: The Art of the Real (9/30/06; Film & History, 11/8/06-11/12/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Loren Baybrook
contact email: 

Call for Papers
2006 Film & History Conference
“The Documentary Tradition”
8-12 November, 2006
Dolce Conference Center â€" Dallas, TX

AREA: The Art of the Real

When is a film no longer art but merely a recording, an audio-visual document? It is tempting to evade the question by claiming that, because every document is the product of choices, conscious or not, those choices must amount to some form of art, be it individual or cultural. But aesthetic questions revolve around the quality and kind of choices, not the mere fact of them. When do we say that one documentary--a war film, a reality TV program, a cinematic exposé on drug dealers in City Hall--is aesthetically superior to another documentary? Can we compare documentaries apart from their topics? Ever since Aristotle, literary critics do more than measure the scandal quotient or assess the politics of a text. Topicality runs shallow. What formal and/or thematic components make a documentary artful, not just true or false? If the documentary is a unique art form, like the lyric poem or the tragic drama, then its generic boundaries can be violated. A putatively document
ary film can fail--or even reject--itself as a documentary. How? Has a new documentary genre emerged in the last decade or two, requiring different aesthetic criteria, or has the genre remained consistent? How much "reality" must a documentary program contain to remain a "documentary"? And what depictions of reality--as well as the rhetorical or cinematic devices generating them--qualify as generic?

Formal analyses of fictional documentaries or historical fictions
Meta-narrative film treatments of history
Genre and aesthetics theory

Send your proposals, 200-400 words, to Dr. Loren PQ Baybrook, Area Chair, Department of English, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI 54901. Phone: 920-424-2253. E-mail:

This Area is a part of the Film and History League’s “The Documentary Tradition” conference for 2006. See the Film & History web site ( for evolving details about the meetings and the many areas.

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Received on Thu Nov 03 2005 - 12:47:03 EST