The Archive in the Age of Cinema: A Counter-Archival Theory of Cinematic Memory From Henri Bergson to André Bazin

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Saturday, October 30, 2010 - 16:00
Concordia Universit

ARTHEMIS is pleased to present a lecture with

Paula Amad
University of Iowa

“The Archive in the Age of Cinema: A Counter-Archival Theory of Cinematic Memory From Henri Bergson to André Bazin”

There is a strong anti-archival tradition in French intellectual thought that runs from Charles Baudelaire and Henri Bergson to Michel Foucault and Pierre Nora. This paper rethinks that tradition by arguing that a counter- (rather than anti-) archival tradition grounds Bergson’s philosophical writings.  The dimensions of this counter-archival strand only fully appear, however, once Bergson’s ideas on the archive, time, and memory are placed in the context of that institution revolutionizing the concept of space and time in the early twentieth century, namely the film archive.  Although never before examined in the fields of Bergson studies or film studies, Bergson was in fact involved indirectly with a pioneering film archive, Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète. In addition to situating Bergson’s thinking in relation to Kahn’s Archive, the paper also places his philosophy in the context of related treatments of modern media and the archive, including the writings of Siegfried Kracauer and André Bazin. This talk draws upon Amad’s book Counter-Archive: Film, the Everyday, and Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète (Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2010).

Paula Amad is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Cinema and Comparative Literature, University of Iowa. She has published widely including articles in Film History, Camera Obscura, and Framework; and an essay in Virtual Voyages: Cinema and Travel (DukeUP, 2006).  Her first book Counter-Archive: Film, the Everyday and Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète (ColumbiaUP) will be out in the Spring of 2010.  Her current research includes book projects on the forgotten women of French film history and the archival imaginary of post-World War II French cinema, as well essays on aerial cinematography, the return of the gaze, and the cinematic haunting of Les Halles.