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Screening Politics: Affect, Identity, and Uprising

University of Pittsburgh, October 2-3, 2015
Hosted by the Film Studies Graduate Student Organization (FSGSO)

Call for Papers | Deadline: Friday, July 10, 2015

Keynote by Meghan Sutherland, Associate Professor of Visual Culture and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Sutherland’s fields of specialty include film and media theory; American television and new media history; aesthetics and political forms; continental philosophy; avant-garde and activist film, video, and performance art; and theories of media, space, and place. She is the author of The Flip Wilson Show (Wayne State University Press, 2008).

From Amazon’s Transparent to #jesuischarlie, from The Interview controversy to coverage of Ferguson, MO, major media events of the past year foreground the image’s imbrication in politics. At the same time, it’s increasingly unclear what it means for an image to be political. We’re losing faith in revolution and representation as paradigms: the image’s revolutionary promise feels unattainable, and it no longer seems guaranteed that “better” representation translates into better material conditions for life. Recent work sees political potential in affect and the commons, but these concepts’ particular importance for the politics of media remains undertheorized. If the affective turn signals a desire to think politics with and through bodies, how do we conceive relations between images, identity, and embodiment? If the commons holds political promise, what role can the image play in materializing life shared in common, whether imagined through identity politics, coalition, or cosmopolitan exchange?

Thus, this conference proposes a renewed consideration of what we mean when we call an image political, when we frame politics through visual media. Does the making visible of particular bodies (laboring bodies, bodies marked by race, sex, nation) make political difference? How do we account for scale – are media politics measured on the global, national, or individual level? What determines an image’s political valence: formal and aesthetic qualities? Audience engagements? Histories of production, distribution and exhibition? How do we attend to time, recognizing that historical politics of media are embedded in past moments while accounting for their resonance with our own?

We welcome submissions across time periods and media forms. Possible topics might include but are not limited to:

-Film and identity; identity politics
-Images of occupation, (neo)colonization and resistance
-Failed revolution; anarchy (Hakim Bey’s TAZ)
-Networked politics: decentralization and control, digital distribution, social media as political tool
-Borders: personal, national and digital
-Affect studies: politically mobilized feelings, collective affect, affect and form
-Theories of/approaches to the commons
-Visibility and its critiques
-Politics of truth; indexicality and evidence
-New Queer Cinema, L.A. Rebellion, feminist film theory and practice
-Aesthetics and politics (Ranciere)
-Theories (and critiques) of utopia: queer utopias, Bloch, futurity
-Revolutionary aesthetics: Mulvey, Soviet montage, revolutionary praxis
-Critiques of revolutionary rhetoric (Gitelman)
-Deleuze and Guattari’s minor art
-Active audiences: oppositional spectatorships, remix culture, “produsers”
-Representations of history; cinematic counterhistories
-Counterrevolutionary media: propaganda, surveillance, drone strikes
-The unrepresentable
-Material politics: media archeology, selection and archival practice

Interested graduate students may submit abstracts (maximum 300 words) – along with institutional/departmental affiliations and current email – to by July 10, 2015. We also invite creative submissions (film, video, installation) responding to our theme in forms other than the traditional conference paper. If you go this route, please submit a description (maximum 300 words) that includes spatial, temporal, and technological requirements. For more information, please contact the FSGSO by email at the above address.