"Extra! Extra!" Film, Civics, and Supernumerary Modernism MSA Pittsburgh 2014
This CFP, for the upcoming MSA conference in Pittsburgh, invites abstracts for a panel focused on film as a civic industry that traffics in images of solidarity, civic involvement, mass citizenship, or social/economic exclusion. Work on film as "vernacular modernism" (as Miriam Hansen wrote) has envisioned cinema as both a "social horizon of experience" and an effort to articulate new modes of sensory perception—a tension produced by, but also critical of, Fordist modes of cultural and economic production. Beyond Fordism, the cinema has long been seen to engage in crowd control and crowd production, both within the pictures and within theater audiences: whether in Kracauer's account of the Mass Ornament, Eisenstein's effort at mass-mobilization, or Dali and Bunuel's use of a "gob of spit in the face of art" to create an oppositional counterpublic. The culture industry, the propaganda film, market segmentation, or supernumerary categories such as the "extra" represent additional ways in which film, as art form and as industry, ascribes human value.
How, then, does cinema's capacity simultaneously to mobilize the many (the mass, the crowd, the multitude) or to highlight the few (the star, the picture personality) produce accounts of civic comportment or dispensability? How did early-twentieth-century film define which populations, bodies, classes of person, or modes of experience contributed to the public good? How do filmic treatments of human individuals, or the cinema's use of individuals in production, help us to understand modernist publics and counterpublics in other aesthetic or social spheres?
Papers on Hollywood cinema, avant-garde film, animation, film in relation to progressive or radical movements, or other related topics would be welcome. Please submit an abstract of 300 words and a short bio to Katherine Fusco ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Josh Epstein ( email@example.com ) by April 30.