Considering the Reading of Films, NEMLA 4/7-4/11 2010

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Northeast Modern Language Association, 41st Anniversary Conference, Montreal
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Call for Papers

Session Title: Considering the Reading of Films

41st Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure

Session Description: Interpretation has been presented as an exhausted endeavor almost from the advent of film studies as an academic discipline. Auteurist-oriented criticism was as much a journalistic as an academic enterprise; and while auteurist-oriented critics are often said to have been devoted to close reading, the readings they produced were often little more than plot summaries. Fewer sustained analyses of movies got offered during the period of auteurism's ascendancy, in other words, than one is regularly led to believe. Theory, during its heyday, did generate many readings of individual films, but it didn't accept what it was doing as interpretation. Explicitly, theorists condemned interpretation as naïve, or as riddled with bad faith, or as inherently conservative, if not reactionary, since the activity was perceived to be associated with canon formation. In the post-theory world dominated by historical analysis, reading movies still functions as the other of legitimate academic work. Thus, despite the dearth of credible and compelling discussions of many historically significant movies, contemporary critics continue to characterize the act of interpretation as historically redundant. The aim of this panel is to explore the place of interpretation in contemporary film studies. The central question that the panel will address: what is the value of the work we do when we read movies?

We seek papers that respond directly to that question. We also welcome; readings of individual films that, in the process of their unfolding, make a case for the value of interpretation—or that discuss and/or demonstrate the importance of reading well.

Send 250-500 word abstracts to Phillip Novak at

Deadline: September 30, 2009

Please include with your abstract:

Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee)

The 41st Annual Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention will be posted in June:

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

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