CFP: On Subtitles (SCMS 2015 Montreal, due 8/4)

full name / name of organization: 
Jeffrey Middents
contact email: 

Patricia Rozema's "Desperanto," the first section of the 1992 omnibus film Montréal vu par/Montreal Sextet, follows Ann, an Anglophone Canadian housewife who just wants to have a good time visiting this Francophone city, yet struggles mightily with her inability to speak or understand French. A fantasy sequence during a party, however, suddenly allows her to see – and the interact with – the subtitles in English at the bottom of the screen, eventually serving as a magic carpet of sorts that whisks her off the screen at the end of the film.

Rozema's character playfully enacts the viewer's rather serious relationship with international cinema through the use of the subtitles. Subtitles permit wider, transcultural distribution of cinematic and televisual images, but do so by altering the image (and the viewer's relationship with the mise-en-scène of that image). As such, viewers simultaneously read two images – one cinematic, one textual, both prone to mistakes and misreadings.
Inspired by Arom Egoyan and Ian Balfour's edited collection Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film, this panel invites papers that consider subtitles as critical objects of study. Potential topics might include, but are not limited to:
- The practice of subtitling
- The history of subtitling
- Mistranslation in subtitles
- Theorizing the relationship between image and subtitle
- Films that metatextually interact with their own subtitles (e.g. "Desperanto," Who the Hell is Juliette?) or place subtitles somewhere besides the bottom of the screen (e.g. Man of Fire).
- Subtitles vs. dubbing
- What gets subtitled and what does not
- Cinematic vs. televisual subtitling
- Subtitling practice and archives on the internet
- Subtitles for the hard of hearing

Please submit a paper title, an abstract no longer 2500 characters, a five-item bibliography, and a brief author bio (no more than 500 characters) to Jeffrey Middents ( by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Monday, August 4th.