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>
>From: "Trifonova, Temenuga" <[log in to unmask]>
>
>Subject: CFP: Realism in European Film Theory and Cinema (2/20/06; collection)
>
>Realism in European Film Theory and Cinema (2/20/06; collection)
>
>
>Submissions are sought for an edited collection 
>on European film theory and its relation
>to contemporary cinema. Of particular interest 
>are articles on the notion of realism in
>European film theory and cinema. What are the 
>philosophical and historical origins of
>European film realism (in all its varieties: 
>ontological, aesthetic, technological,
>social)? How has the notion of film realism changed over the years? What film
>techniques, styles, themes have been 
>traditionally privileged as reflecting most
>faithfully the ëclassicalí notion of realism? 
>Does our current understanding of realism
>privilege a different set of techniques, styles, 
>themes? What is the history of film
>realism in different European national cinemas? How has European film theory
>distinguished itself from American film theory 
>in its conception of film realism?
>Please email an abstract (500-1000 words) and a short bio (including recent
>publications) to [log in to unmask]  or send a hard copy to:
>
>Temenuga Trifonova
>Department of English
>The University of New Brunswick
>Carleton Hall, 247
>P.O. Box 4400
>Fredericton, NB
>E3B 5A3  Canada
>
>Deadline for abstracts: FEBRUARY 20, 2006
>Notification of accepted abstracts: MARCH 15, 2006
>
>
>Here are some possible ideas to explore:
>
>As Ian Aitken has argued, European film theory 
>has been shaped by Kantian idealism,
>Husserlís transcendental phenomenology with its 
>search for the ëdeep structuresí of
>experience, Brechtís theory of epic theatre, and 
>the Frankfurt schoolís critique of the
>culture industries. The aesthetic of Kracauer, 
>Arnheim, Balazs, Adorno and Marcuse,
>which aimed at promoting non-cognitive and 
>irrationalist forms of expression as a
>resistance to instrumental reason, was based on a redefinition of the idea of
>ëdistractioní into the more positively construed idea of ëindeterminacyí. The
>redemption of physical reality Kracauer 
>envisioned was possible thanks to the homology
>between the transient, undramatic, indeterminate 
>nature of the Lebenswelt and the
>equally indeterminate nature of the film image.
>
>However, this concept of indeterminacy has 
>undergone significant changes that have
>indirectly led to a redefinition of cinematic 
>realism. The indeterminate, transient,
>accidental nature of reality and of the film 
>image examined by Kracauer shares very
>little with the emphasis on accident, chance, 
>and destiny in recent films (e.g. films
>by Kieslowski, Tykwer, Haneke, as well as 
>various art films like Delphine Gleizeís
>Carnage, Jacques Rivetteís Va Savoir, AgnËs 
>Jaouiís The Taste of Others, and Tonie
>Marshallís Venus Institute).
>
>While Kracauer and Bazin located cinematic 
>realism in distraction and plotlessness,
>which they saw as structurally analogous to the unscripted, indeterminate,
>ëunderplottedí nature of reality, many recent 
>films dilute even further the modality or
>intensity of narrative, spatializing time into 
>disconnected and, through editing,
>treated as parallel narrative strands. This kind 
>of indeterminacy proceeds from
>overplotting, from an excess of disconnected, 
>reversible (i.e. meaningless) phenomena,
>events, and characters which acquire a minimal, 
>purely formal kind of significance by
>virtue of being placed alongside one another: 
>their only ëmeaningí consists in their
>allegedly simultaneous existence with other phenomena, events and characters.
>
>This gradual displacement of narrative by 
>associational discourse is partly made
>possible by mass culture. Only in mass culture 
>can one achieve the sort of ëpleasing
>arbitrarinessí whereby arbitrary vignettes are 
>strung together and still seem to make
>sense, because under the conditions of mass 
>culture all important differences between
>things become blurred so that arbitrary 
>connections between them become not only
>plausible but the only ones possible. Are we to 
>read the series of coincidences and
>arbitrary connections between events in recent 
>films positively or negatively? Is
>coincidence or chanceóboth of which are types of 
>samenessóan aspect of life in an
>indifferent, anonymous, mass culture, or is 
>coincidence a sign of the invisible,
>magical (metaphysical?) interconnectedness of everything?
>
>On one hand art cinema has made the formal 
>indeterminacy of classic realist theory into
>its new subject matter, obsessively staging 
>chance encounters and coincidences and
>oscillating between a positive interpretation of 
>these (chance and indeterminacy
>interpreted as liberating or as evidence of the 
>interconnectedness of everything) and a
>more pessimistic one (chance and indeterminacy interpreted as evidence of a
>predetermined destiny from which there is no 
>escape). On the other hand, in the last
>couple of decades European cinema has been 
>defining itself as ërealisticí by virtue of
>the particular kinds of stories it tells 
>(ëpost-Europeaní narratives of displacement
>told by exiles, expatriates, and migrants) 
>rather than by virtue of the particular film
>techniques it employs. There is a risk here of 
>blurring the distinction between
>ërealisticí cinema and ërepresentativeí cinema 
>(in the sense that there are certain
>things or identities that are in need of being 
>represented). If that happens, cinematic
>realism becomes implicitly identified with 
>intentional or willed self-marginalization
>and the ëexoticí subject--the most marginalized 
>subject--is transformed into the prime
>guarantor of the real. Not only is the marginal 
>invested with the potential to give us
>access to the real, but now it appears as though 
>the real itself is defined by its
>degree of unfamiliarity and otherness, in a 
>word, by its difference. The local, the
>concrete, the narrowly defined identity is 
>elevated into a criterion for reality in an
>often overcompensatory attempt to make up for 
>all past ëevilí grand narratives (the
>nation state, national identity, national cinema being the usual culprits).
>

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