Moving Images Studies: History (ies), Method (s), Discipline (s).

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Concordia University, EV 1,615, 1515 St. Catherine W.

In recent years, scholars of the moving image have begun investigating their own scholarly activities and the various institutions that house these practices or make them possible. Histories of film and moving image scholarship have appeared that have challenged a number of received ideas about the birth of film studies or its possible goals as an academic endeavor. Equally challenging have been the attacks on film studies as a predominantly « hermeneutic » discipline, the historical turn, the rise of cognitivism and the more recent « philosophical » or « analytical » turn. The emergence of digital/new media is yet another factor that is prompting scholars to reconsider their understanding of moving images and to either revise some of the concepts film specialists have used to describe them  and account for the way they are experienced or else to develop new ones.

 
The ARTHEMIS conference wishes to offer an international forum for scholars to reflect on the theory and practice of film and moving image studies from historical and epistemological perspectives.
 
Contributions to the conference will fall into four streams:
 
1. Epistemology
Scholars have been attracted to the study of moving images from various general perspectives (psychology, psychoanalysis, cognitive science, aesthetics and poetics, linguistics, semiotics, feminism, anthropology, hermeneutics, phenomenology, philosophy of language, Marxism, sociology, etc.) and with various goals in mind. Though this situation is not field specific, it nonetheless raises a number of epistemological questions. For instance: Can the various goals of film scholarship find unity or is such unity impossible or else simply undesirable ? How have scholarly goals been defined in the field ? What, if any, have been the shared commitments or ideals of film scholarship ? Other questions might concern the sort(s) of knowledge produced by film and moving image studies or the extent to which scholars in the field should be concerned with « truth » or any other measure to insure discursive rationality or disciplinary normativity. In other words, how are concepts in film and moving image studies to be appraised - aesthetically, ethically, logically ?
 
2. Technology
Cinema studies has always had at its core a set of claims about technology, whether pertaining to the cinematic apparatus or to the mechanics of the virtual.  We now live in an era in which most definitions of cinema have expanded to a variety of adjacent technological forms, including digital media, television, and computer generated imagery. While some scholars have embraced the epistemological challenges presented by new categories of moving images, others have declared that we are witnessing the end of cinema.  Nonetheless, scholars have deployed several different media formats to assist in research programmes and classroom tasks, including Steenbecks, 16mm and analytical projectors, videotape, DVD, computers, and the Internet. In this stream, we wish to investigate the relationship between technology, moving images, and moving image studies, in both historical and contemporary cases.  In what way have ideas and presumptions about technology always had an influence upon the ontological and epistemological dimensions of cinema ?  How has recognition of the unstable nature of the cinematic apparatus provoked new understandings of moving images ?  What impact have new media had upon the focus and priorities of moving image research and teaching?
 
3. Institutions
For over a century, myriad institutions have played a particularly important role in the generation of knowledge and expertise regarding moving images. Whether the term institution is invoked to designate bricks-and-mortar sites (such as MoMA, the British Film Institute, the Cinémathèque française) or whether it is used to name the formalization and consolidation of various practices that include film theory (e.g., « Screen  theory », Cahier's « Politique des auteurs »), academic discourse (film canons, textbooks, course curricula), film style and form, the avant-garde and the « art world », this section of the conference will examine the complex relations that bind institutions and moving image studies. Papers may focus on specific institutions or types of organizations (museums, libraries, universities and schools, film societies, film journals, churches, radical political groups, production companies, distributors, festivals, state or government departments and programs, fan clubs). Presenters may also focus on the less obviously materialist manifestations of the institutional impulse and its impact on moving image studies (particular film styles, generic and aesthetic categories, canons, critical and theoretical discourses, academic disciplines and inter-disciplines). All manner of moving images will be deemed pertinent. The unifying link for this stream will be the concept and practice of institutionalization across the history of moving image studies. What role have moving images played within and across institutions academic and non-academic? How have such institutions shaped the histories and epistemologies of moving images?
 
4. Cinephilia
Cinema scholars have consistently grounded their thinking in specific examples of film practice, thereby creating central canons of art cinema, experimental cinema, and auteur cinema. While shifts and tensions within the popular cinema/art cinema divide (or mass culture/modernism) have arguably influenced the theorization of cinema over the last century, the notion of cinephilia offers a strategic site from which one can recognize - sometimes against the grain of theory - the more subjective and culturally-specific terms of cinematic knowledge. Though historically essential, the relations of cinephilia to specialized film scholarship have not always been harmonious, as often witnessed in those instances when film studies has adopted a more detached, « objectivist » or « scientific » demeanor toward its object of inquiry. Thus, recent debates between culturalism and formalism are not unrelated to these issues. This section of the conference will examine the relationship between cinephilia and film studies. Topics may include the historical role of cinephilia in film culture, as well as the various forms of discrimination, boundaries, tensions that exist between the discursive formations of cinephilia, and those of film scholarship. Participants may also wish to address issues of intertextuality and cinephilic pleasure, local or transnational cinephilia, or the work of specific practitioner-theorists. Likewise they may investigate how contemporary cinematic practices (arising from new technologies and new sites of film production and exhibition) may also lead to new forms of cinephilia.