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Second Chances, Final Glances: Media Afterlives

Call for Papers | FINAL Deadline: Friday August 2nd, 2013

Second Chances, Final Glances: Media Afterlives
University of Pittsburgh, October 18-19, 2013
Hosted by the Film Studies Graduate Student Organization (FSGSO)

Keynote by Homay King, Associate Professor of History of Art and Director, Center for Visual Culture at Bryn Mawr College. King teaches Film Studies and her fields of specialty include American cinema, film theory, psychoanalytic theory, and feminist film theory and criticism. King is author of Lost in Translation: Orientalism, Projection, and the Enigmatic Signifier (Duke University Press, 2010).

If obsolescence is both a condition and consequence of media culture, how can we approach and articulate the relationship between oldness and newness, obsolescence and innovation, with regard to changes in cinematic form, technology, and scholarship? This conference reconsiders obsolescence as a strategic anachronism, focusing not only on technological formats but also on genres, critical approaches, and texts. To address the allure of the “now” which pervades approaches to everything from Blu-ray technology to Speculative Realism, we affirm the need to turn back in order to imagine what lies ahead.

When an idea, object, medium, or thinker passes into obsolescence, what anxieties or nostalgias does it engender? How are communities formed by shared investment in the displaced, and how are they stimulated by the possibilities of reappropriation? What explanatory frameworks and affective experiences apply when the genealogies of obsolescence are primarily material (e.g. celluloid or 8-bit video games) or discursive (e.g. forgotten critics and faded schools-of-thought)? What can a technology or idea’s reemergence tell us about the context in which relevance is regained?

As technologies, formats, exhibition sites, kinds of objects, and even particular critical archives go out of (and, perhaps more importantly, back into) favor or fashion, they acquire a different aura, such that what’s relegated to the margins of the market economy is often central to alternative circuits of the antique, the collectible, kitsch and camp, etc. By exploring transformative moments and practices of moving image production and reception as well as theory and criticism, Second Chances will engage notions of obsolescence and reemergence that determine how we contextualize, historicize, and promote our scholarly projects.

We are particularly interested in submissions that engage Film, TV, and Media Studies Critical Theory and Historiography. Other possible topics may include:

  • Form/content relations: obsolescent platforms and platforms for obsolescent texts.
  • “No one reads ____” : recuperations and other engagements with “passé” thinkers, concepts, or methods.
  • Outmoded genres and aesthetic/narrative conventions in film and TV.
  • Racialized and gendered implications of progress, anachronism, and futurity, particularly via critiques of neoliberalism, and interventions from queer theory, critical race, and feminist film/media scholarship.
  • Dead or dormant production cycles and their imagined audiences.
  • “Unofficial” or forgotten archives: their discovery, organization, and research.
  • Preservation practices and the politics of conservation.
  • Abandoned/neglected exhibition sites and practices.
  • Unusable/unplayable audio and video playback and projection formats.
  • Found footage, “obsolete technologies,” cinematic detritus, and residual media.
  • Stars and obsolescence: celebrity cycles and finitude.
  • Time and media formats (e.g. film, video, TV, digital): ephemerality and duration.
  • Media archaeology and historical methods.
  • Changing technologies and policies in screen translation (dubbing and subtitles).
  • Obsolescence and ontology (being-toward-death).

We welcome approaches from a range of disciplines, including but not limited to: Film and Media studies, Art and Art History, Visual Culture, Feminist and Queer Studies, Communications, Critical Theory, Literature, Musicology, and Philosophy.

Interested graduate students may submit abstracts (maximum 300 words) – along with institutional/departmental affiliations and current email – to by July 17, 2013. For more information, please contact the FSGSO by email at the above address.