Terrence Malick, Tree of Life, and the Malickian Style (SCMS deadline 8/15; 3/21-5/12)

full name / name of organization: 
Paul Petrovic /Society for Cinema and Media Studies
contact email: 

SCMS CFP: Terrence Malick, Tree of Life, and the Malickian Style

SCMS Annual Conference 2012
The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers
March 21-25, 2012

Conscious of the ways in which existing criticism has dealt with Terrence Malick's filmography, this panel seeks to expand scholarship on Malick's films. Scholars typically invoke his philosophical background, examine his treatment of America's self-defeating masculinity, or contrast his works directly against more conventionally Hollywood works. This panel, aware of the recent release of Tree of Life, asks how Malick's new film in particular advances these existing areas. However, it also seeks essays that either complicate existing readings of his previous works or essays that consider avenues of study hitherto uncovered by current scholarship.

Possible topics could include:
How does Tree of Life consider, reconcile, and problematize the feminine?
How does Tree of Life complicate the historical imaginary of the American past?
How does the use of abstraction, such as the volcanoes, dinosaurs, or the heavenly develop overarching motifs to Tree of Life?
How does the cultivating of a central narrative in the editing room, rather than through a script, secure a distinct stylistic for Malick's films? Further, how does it hinder any semblance of conventionality?
What kinds of juxtapositions do Malick's voiceovers reveal amidst their visual and oral contradictions (i.e. are Nature and Grace as clearly defined as the voiceover contends in Tree of Life's opening?), and what do these juxtapositions reveal about the larger narrative structures?
How does space and modernist architecture play a role in the choreography and film editing of Tree of Life?
How is the critical attempt to place a biographical context atop this work problematized by Malick's disinterest in discussing his biography? How does this critical trend shift the film toward a conventional narrative?
In discussing this text, film critics have latched onto frameworks as diverse as the Bible, Freud, Darwin, Heidegger, Nietzsche, C.S. Lewis, and assorted others. How do these often contradictory sources reveal trends in the politicization of reception and reception theory?
How does the typically Malickian wandering camera style align or contrast with his films' conceits?
In what ways have contemporary filmmakers co-opted and appropriated a Malickian style into their aesthetic?

Please send a 300-word abstract with five bibliographic sources and a brief author bio to pauldpetrovic@gmail.com, by August 15, 2011, 5 pm (CT).