[UPDATE] CFP: Auteur as Citizen: Nicholas Ray and New Directions in Director Studies

full name / name of organization: 
Society for Cinema and Media Studies

Prospective Panel: Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference, March 10-13, 2011
Ritz Carlton Hotel, New Orleans, LA

Deadline for submissions: Sunday, August 8, 2010 11:59 PM EDT

Submissions are still welcome for essays that consider the relationship between film authorship and citizenship with respect to Nicholas Ray, director of "They Live By Night" (1949), "In a Lonely Place" (1950), "Johnny Guitar" (1954), "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955), and "Bigger Than Life" (1956).

Ray was the "cause célèbre of the auteur theory," as critic Andrew Sarris put it, and yet unlike his senior colleagues Alfred Hitchcock or Howard Hawks, he remains a director largely ignored by academic film scholarship on Hollywood. Marking his 100th birthday, this interdisciplinary panel aims to revisit Ray in the wake of renewed interest in the director: the Harvard Film Archive is currently hosting a Ray retrospective; his widow Susan Ray is in the progress of restoring his final film, "We Can't Go Home Again" (1976), for re-release at the 2011 Venice International Film Festival; film archivist Michael Chaiken is at work on the sale of Ray material with New York rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz; Ray's daughter Nikka is completing a memoir; and author Patrick McGilligan is writing a new biography.

Rather than taking a traditional auteurist reassessment based on style and "personal vision" alone, we want to reframe film authorship studies to explore the communal responsibility and public life of the director at the intersections of auteurism and civic discourse. The tensions between individuality and community, and rebellion and conformism, both in Ray's films and in his reputation working in the Classical Hollywood system, make him a representative case study in this regard. Through this socio-historical lens, we want to investigate more broadly how both the biographical legends and aesthetic practices of directors articulate civic identity in ethical, political, cultural, and national contexts.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

• Ray's background in architecture, radio, and socialist theater

• The transnational reception of Ray's films in Europe during the 1950s and in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s that led to his canonization as a "Hollywood auteur"

• The rise of youth culture and a youth market in the 1950s

• Gender, sexualities, and whiteness: representation / identification

• Screening social class

• Space: rural vs. (sub)urban America

• Place: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, the backroads of Oklahoma, "the frontier," etc.

• Outlaws and folk heroes, celebrity, and the myth of "the rebel"

• Marginalized figures, victims of society, and the politics of rebellion

• Ray's non-Hollywood films: "We Can't Go Home Again" (1973-76), "The Janitor" (1974) and "Marco" (1978)

• Film performance, stardom, and its social contexts: Ray's collaborations with James Dean, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Ryan, and others

• Ray's international legacy and influence on the French New Wave, as well as on filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson, Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders

Send 300 word abstract with 5 item bibliography and full academic CV (as separate e-mail attachments) to: Steve Rybin (smrybin@comcast.net) and Will Scheibel (willscheibel@gmail.com). Submitters will be notified as to the status of their proposal by August 15, 2010. Please visit the SCMS website for more details about the 2011 conference: http://www.cmstudies.org/

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