ReFocus: The Films of Claire Denis (EUP)
ReFocus: The Films of Claire Denis (EUP, ed. Peter Sloane, University of Lincoln UK)
With a career spanning over three decades (1988-Present), French filmmaker Claire Denis has demonstrated not only a remarkable longevity in a notoriously fickle industry, but a continuing fascination with the possibilities of film as form, as art, as language. Simultaneously idiosyncratically French yet global in their outlook, her films test traditional boundaries between genres, cultures, fiction and autobiography, perhaps evidencing what Denis herself refers to as her ‘dreamy distance with reality’. Denis exhibits the joyful eclecticism which characterises the careers of many great auteurs, from Stanley Kubrick to Seijun Suzuki, with her explorations of the postcolonial (Chocolat, White Material), horror (Trouble Every Day), romance (Let the Sunshine In), sci-fi (High Life), and thriller (Bastards, The Stars at Noon). As Martine Beugnet comments, Denis ‘draws on a diversity of genres’ while still forging ‘a remarkable aesthetic and thematic consistency.’ Building relationships with a small troupe of acclaimed actors (including Alex Descas, Isabelle Huppert, Beatrice Dalle, Juliet Binoche and more recently Robert Pattinson in her English language debut High Life and the forthcoming The Stars at Noon), she often works with the same musicians (Tindersticks), Director of Photography (Agnès Godard), and screenwriter (Jean-Pol Fargeau). Clearly the product of a single creative vision working in the traditions of world cinema (an auteur in this sense), Denis’ films are collaborative efforts which also adopt and subvert ‘mainstream’ conventions. ReFocus: The Films of Claire Denis is a timely look at an artist at the height of her powers, and with an impressive oeuvre which is iteratively reinterpreted in light of new works.
Scholarship on Denis has been relatively scant. However, there are three major works: Martine Beugnet’s important and ever-relevant monograph Claire Denis (2004); Judith Mayne’s impressive 2004 Claire Denis; and Marjorie Vecchio’s edited collection The Films of Claire Denis: Intimacy on the Border (2014), which together constitute the foundations of contemporary Denis scholarship. Developing insights from these excellent volumes, ReFocus: The Films of Claire Denis, will update and reapply ideas to her more recent films, while also offering unique perspectives and original approaches.
The study hopes to be comprehensive in its coverage (including chapters on her short films, documentaries, and soundtracks) and its methodology, while retaining a clear focus on the films and their place within European and world cinema. Preference will be given to papers which read themes across several films as opposed to readings of single films. Papers might consider (amongst other things):
- Postcolonialism / Exile / Alienation
- Masculinity / Femininity
- Space and Place
- The body / Desire
- Race / Nationhood
The volume will be part of Edinburgh University Press’s renowned ReFocus series, jointly edited by Robert Singer, Stefanie Van de Peer, and Gary D. Rhodes. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the first major study of Denis for almost a decade. If you are interested in participating, send a 350-word abstract, along with a 100-word bio. to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 30th 2021. Final essays will be 6,000 to 8,000 words. If you have any questions, please do email me at the above address. I am happy to respond informally to queries about possible approaches.