CFP: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Eddie Falvey (University of Exeter/PCA) and Dr Thomas Joseph Watson (University of Northumbria)
contact email: 

ReFocus: The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn

Edited by Dr Eddie Falvey (University of Exeter/Plymouth College of Art) and Dr Thomas Joseph Watson (University of Northumbria)

Despite being widely recognised as a key enfant terrible of contemporary cinema, the films of Nicolas Winding Refn have received surprisingly little sustained academic analysis. His films represent a distinct body of work expressive of one of one of the more unique, divisive, and yet significant voices in modern cinema. Given the controversy surrounding Refn's cinema, from his uses of sex and violence, to his treatment of challenging themes, and to his popular reception as a producer of art-house exploitation, it is an opportune moment to give Refn's cinema the critical scrutiny it invites and, indeed, deserves. Following the acclaim that Refn received for the Pusher trilogy (1996-2005), Bronson (2008), and especially Drive (2011), the critical reception of Refn’s recent cinema has been considerably more divisive, with film critics referring to his latter works as “cinematic defecation” (The Observer on Only God Forgives [2013]) and “hot garbage” (New York Times on The Neon Demon [2016]). Coinciding with Refn's now-considerable status within international film discourse – as an auteur filmmaker, a curator of exploitation cinema, and now as a TV show-runner, following the release of Too Old to Die Young (2019) on Amazon – the editors of this collection wish to offer the opportunity for scholars to collect and offer a range of perspectives on this fascinating filmmaker. Refn's cinema is recognisable for, among other reasons, its striking aesthetic qualities, its referential nods to film history, its contravention of thematic and generic boundaries, as well as its provocative yet complex treatment of themes including sex, violence, excess, celebrity, and power. We hope to oversee the development of a diverse cross-examination of Refn's impressive body of work, one that offers a range of scholarly insights into what is emerging as one of the most distinct filmographies in contemporary cinema.

Topics for chapters may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any of Refn’s feature films
  • Refn’s new TV series Too Old to Die Young
  • Refn and film philosophy
  • Treatments of violence and/or sexual violence
  • Refn and gender (especially feminist and/or queer approaches to his work)
  • Cognitive approaches to Refn
  • Refn and treatments of justice and/or revenge
  • National cinema: Refn as a Danish filmmaker
  • Transnational cinema: Refn as a European filmmaker
  • Genre, convention and experimentation
  • Refn and auteur theory
  • Refn as a curator of exploitation film via his website and subsequent guest editorials (highlighting films such as The Nest of the Cuckoo Birds [1965]), Hot Thrills and Warm Chills [1967], Shanty Tramp [1967], and House on Bare Mountain [1962])
  • Refn and celebrity culture
  • Refn and hyperrealism
  • Industrial approaches to Refn
  • Refn and collaboration (i.e. Ryan Gosling, Cliff Martinez, etc.)
  • Refn and performance
  • Aesthetic approaches to Refn’s cinema
  • Your own suggested idea

Submission details

The Films of Nicolas Winding Refn is to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press in the newly expanded ReFocus series which now includes international as well as American directors. Series editors are Prof. Robert Singer, Dr Stefanie van de Peer, and Dr Gary D. Rhodes.

We would like to invite chapter proposals of approximately 250 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement. The deadline for ab­stract submissions is Friday 20th September 2019 (with confirmation to be received by Monday 30th September 2019). Please address proposals and/or any inquiries to both Eddie and Tom at Accepted contributors will be expected to submit their full chap­ters of 6,000-8,000 words (including endnotes) by Friday 28th February 2020.