NeMLA conference (April 7-10, 2011 in New Brunswick, NJ): The Other French Cinema(s) of the 1930s

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Colleen Kennedy-Karpat and Bénédicte Lebéhot, Rutgers University

Title The Other French Cinema(s) of the 1930s

Co-Chairs Colleen Kennedy-Karpat and Bénédicte Lebéhot

This panel of the 2011 Northeast Modern Language Association Conference will address aspects of 1930s French cinema that have been overlooked by the canonical focus on "poetic realism" and its concomitant themes, stars, and filmmakers. Studies of French cinema tend to view poetic realism as somehow emblematic of the period bookended by the arrival of synchronized sound and the outbreak of World War II. However, to what extent does this narrow perspective belie the diversity of the cinematic experience in France during the 1930s? Many celebrated filmmakers, stars, genres, and themes of the era have been left out of critical and historical assessments of this period. These films range from the unknown to the underappreciated, from blockbusters to box-office duds. They feature actors who regularly topped audience polls before falling into obscurity during or after the war. Some were directed by prolific filmmakers; others were rare products of less active directors.

Aiming neither to challenge the significance of key filmmakers (e.g. Renoir, Vigo, Carné, etc.), nor to marginalize their contributions to the medium, this session seeks instead to break new ground for future studies of French cinema focusing on a decade too often exclusively defined by these filmmakers' oeuvres.

Possible topics may include:
• Early French sound films
• Sound remakes of silent films
• Star studies
• Genre studies (comedy, musical, documentary, etc.)
• Transnational perspectives
• Reception studies
• Animation
• Newsreels
• Film production
• Adaptations and other links between cinema and other texts/media

Comparative and interdisciplinary approaches are welcome.

The NeMLA conference, hosted by Rutgers University, will take place April 7-10, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The deadline for proposal submissions is September 30, 2010. Please submit a 300-500 word abstract and a brief bio (in English or French) to Colleen Kennedy-Karpat at and Bénédicte Lebéhot at