Film Strip image from Wikimedia Commons

Film Strip image from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"The Art of Scale" with Aymar Jean Christian

Join the Chicago Film Seminar on October 20th at 7:30 pm for "The Art of Scale: Production Value in Networked Television" with Aymar Jean Christian of Northwestern University.

"Scale" dominates how technology and entertainment executives discuss their work today, and for them, scale almost always signifies "big" – whether as a noun to imply the size of capital available for production or as a verb to imply a process to facilitate capital accumulation while keeping costs low. Yet scale by definition is relational, a way to orient collective perspectives. A scale allows agents to approximate size in relation to other agents, projects, or objects so it is conceivable to collaborators and stakeholders. Scholars in media studies have for too long taken for granted the implicit bias toward "bigness" in television and new media, limiting our conception of television’s representational possibilities. The networked environment – marked by digital, peer-to-peer as opposed to one-to-many distribution – has opened TV distribution to productions across sizes, troubling conceptions of "high production value." Networked television encompasses everything from YouTubers who profit with relatively small crews to Netflix series outpacing cable television in production budgets.

Christian argues that productions have different values at different levels of scale. "Small scale" production critiques dominant trends in networked television by shifting value assessments from artificial scarcity to building capacity attendant to diverse needs and communities. Queer producers are especially equipped to re-scale television, shifting time, space, and cultural representation considerations on set from limitation and competition to value creation. Using data and experiences from developing Open TV beta, a Chicago-based platform for community-based networked television, Christian shows that small-scale production reveals heretofore under-recognized aspects of production value. He focuses on the experience of producing the first four pilots released under Open TV Presents, a series featuring artistic collaborations among queer and intersectional artists.


Aymar Jean “AJ” Christian is an assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University. His book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood, will explore web television as an innovation in series development. His work on television and new media has been published in numerous academic journals and popular publications, including Cinema JournalContinuum, and Transformative Works and Cultures. He leads Open TV beta, a platform for television by queer, trans and cis-women and artists of color. He has curated film, television and video for the Peabody Awards, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tribeca Film Festival, among others. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

"The Art of Scale" will be held at DePaul’s Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.

Respondent TBA, please check back for details.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 28th: Defining the Field

Please join the Chicago Film Seminar on Thursday, April 28th, 7:00PM, for a roundtable discussion, titled "Defining the Field." Bringing together scholars with diverse perspectives on the field, this workshop opens up a discussion of the evolving contours of cinema studies as it confronts new media and technologies, new methods, and new intellectual and institutional challenges. The conversation will focus broadly on the objects and approaches of cinema and media studies as they are transforming with the academic landscape.The workshop participants will include:

Gerald Butters, Aurora University

D. N. Rodowick, University of Chicago
Salomé Skvirsky, University of Chicago
Neil Verma, Northwestern University
Pam Wojcik, University of Notre Dame

Bios: 


Gerald R. Butters Jr. is a Professor of History at Aurora University. He is author of the following books - Beyond Blaxploitation (2016), From Sweetback to Superfly: Race and Film Audiences in Chicago's Loop, 1970-1975 (2015), Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966 (2007) and Black Manhood on the Silent Screen (2002). A Fulbright scholar, Dr. Butters has lectured internationally including an address to the European Community in Luxembourg. 


D. N. Rodowick is Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. His most recent book, Philosophy’s Artful Conversation (2015), was published by Harvard University Press, completing the trilogy that began with The Virtual Life of Film (2007) and Elegy for Theory (2014). His newest book, What Philosophy Wants from Images, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2017. Rodowick is also a curator, and an award-winning experimental filmmaker and video artist.


Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky is Assistant Professor in the Cinema and Media Studies Department at the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at the University of Chicago, Skvirsky taught in Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and in the English Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her work has appeared in Cinema Journal, the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, and Social Identities. Currently, she is working on a book-length manuscript titled The Aesthetic of Labor: Cinema and the Process Genre.


Neil Verma is Assistant Professor in Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University, where he is Associate Director of the MA program in Sound Arts and Industries. He is the author of Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics and American Radio Drama (Chicago), which won the Best First Book Award from the Society for Cinema & Media Studies in 2013. He is co-editor of Anatomy of Sound: Norman Corwin and Media Authorship (California), forthcoming this Spring. Verma focuses on the intersection of sound and narrative media, and has published chapters and articles on a range of subjects from radio documentaries to film noir, from Bertolt Brecht to Game of Thrones. He is the Network Director for the Radio Preservation Task Force at the library of congress and Special Editor at Sounding Out.


Pamela Robertson Wojcik is Professor in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame and President Elect of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. She is author of Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna, The Apartment Plot: Urban Living in American Film and Popular Culture, 1945 to 1975, and the forthcoming Fantasies of Neglect: Imagining the Urban Child in American Film and Fiction.


Moderator:


Ariel Rogers is Assistant Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. Her research and teaching focus on movie technologies, spectatorship, and new media. She is the author of Cinematic Appeals: The Experience of New Movie Technologies (Columbia University Press, 2013) and has published articles in Cinema Journal, Film History, and montage AV (forthcoming).


The workshop will be held at DePaul’s Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.

For more information about Chicago Film Seminar events, please visit http://chicagofilmseminar.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/chicagofilmseminar 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Summary: Graduate student panel on science fiction and Soviet documentary style

On February 18th, Chicago Film Seminar hosted a graduate student panel on science fiction and Soviet documentary style. Our panelists were Stephen Babish (Northwestern University) and Zdenko Mandusic (University of Chicago). A response was provided by Professor Joshua Malitsky (Indiana University).

In his paper, titled "Empty Spaces: Large-Scale Plans and Urban Dystopia in A Clockwork Orange and THX 1138,” Babish began by outlining the methodology and major claims of his dissertation project on the capacity of science fiction films of the 1970s to produce a critical architectural space through their engagement with the modernist built environment.  It then traced two case studies that analyze the way in which films from this era exploited notoriously incomplete and over-budget large-scale modernist construction projects to critique both their forms and the ideologies underlying them.  To do so, it utilized archival research into both the papers of the administrative bodies responsible for designing, constructing, and promoting these spaces and into papers (where available) of filmmakers Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas that detail their location scouting and selection processes.  The first of these, on the filming of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange in the Southeast London development of Thamesmead, examined the utopian rhetoric surrounding that multi-use neighborhood’s development, a rhetoric that was subsequently undermined by the project’s guiding bureaucratic agencies’ inability to complete or administer it.  It then looked to the still-incomplete Thamesmead’s appearance in A Clockwork Orange as a dystopian cinematic space that would influence discussions of crime and urban decay on both sides of the Atlantic for decades after the film’s release.  The second case study told a similar narrative of the filming of THX 1138 in the San Francisco Bay Area's unopened BART system, a rapid-transit system whose corporately-sponsored centralization was implicitly critiqued by George Lucas’s use of its stark and unfinished stations and computerized command center in his first feature-length film.

Mandusic’s paper, “The Documentary Style in the Soviet Cinema of the 1960s,” explored the ways in which Soviet feature-length fiction films of the time were increasingly discussed in terms of their perceived documentary qualities. What was described as the collision of fictional and factual interests was addressed with the abstract noun dokumental’nost’, and sometimes dokumentalizm. Although no uniform definition was adopted, the appeal to veracity and authenticity through dokumental’nost’ expressed a renewed engagement with the problem of referentiality and how cinema could be used to provide accurate knowledge of the world. Soviet director Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovskii invoked this discourse during the production of his film about contemporary life on a collective farm, The Story of Asia Kliachina, Who Loved but Did Not Marry (Istoriia Asi Kliachinoi, kotoraia liubila da ne vyshla zamuzh). Konchalovskii went on to cast non-professional actors for all but three roles in Asia Kliachina and shot his film entirely on-location in the village of Bezvodnoe, in Russia’s central Gor’kii region. The film’s production strategy was designed to augment the appearance of minimal interference from an authoring presence. Underneath the minimal artifice, Asia Kliachina interlaced the authenticity of non-professional actors and production on-location with post-production sound, cinematographic elements, and editing conventions to generate the impression of looking at and overhearing the lived experience of others. Resulting from this approach, Asia Kliachina becomes instrumental in understanding the development of documentary realism as a deliberate visual style in Soviet cinema. Focusing on Konchalovskii’s production methods and the public discourse concerned with Asia Kliachina, this paper interrogated the competing discourses over “documentary-ness” and how, in the latter half of the 1960s, this aesthetic quality was invoked to define a developing brand of realism whose attested goal was to renew cinema’s link to actual events, persons, and/or social conditions.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

February 18: Graduate student panel on science fiction and Soviet documentary style

Please join the Chicago Film Seminar on ThursdayFebruary 18th, at 6:30pm, for a graduate student panel on science fiction and Soviet documentary style. Our panelists will be Stephen Babish (Northwestern University) and Zdenko Mandušić (University of Chicago). A response will be provided by Joshua Malitsky (Indiana University). 

In his paper, “Empty Spaces: Large-Scale Plans and Urban Dystopia in A Clockwork Orange and THX 1138," Babish traces two case studies, on the filming of A Clockwork Orange in the Southeast London development of Thamesmead and the filming of THX 1138 in the San Francisco Bay Area's unopened BART system, and analyzes the way in which these films exploited notoriously incomplete and over-budget construction projects to critique both their forms and the ideologies underlying them. 

In his paper “The Documentary Style in Soviet Cinema of the 1960s,” Mandušić will interrogate the audio-visual means that informed both positive and negative ascriptions of “documentary-ness” in Soviet Cinema of the 1960s and how they informed the development of a documentary style in Andrei Konchalovskii’s early films.

Stephen Babish has recently defended his dissertation, "Concrete Futures: Science Fiction Cinema and Modernist Architecture at the Dawn of Postmodernity," under the direction of Lynn Spigel in the department of Screen Cultures at Northwestern University. His work focuses on the relationship between place and cinema, particularly on the ability of cinema to function as an architectural or urban critique through location shooting. His dissertation puts dystopian science fiction films from the 1970s into conversation with discourses of utopian futurism that informed the development and construction of their shooting locations in order to frame sci-fi cinema as integral to the Lefebvrian production of modernist architectural spaces.

Zdenko Mandušić is a joint-Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago in the departments of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Cinema and Media Studies. He is currently finishing his dissertation on Soviet film style of the 1950s and 1960s, which examines how new visual strategies altered the relationship between viewers and the screen. His research interests included East European national cinemas, theories of affect and spectatorship, and history of film styles.

Joshua Malitsky is Associate Professor in Cinema and Media Studies and Director of the Center for Documentary Research and Practice at Indiana University. He works on a range of topics related to documentary/nonfiction media genres, focusing his research on the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Cuba. He is the author of Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film: Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations (Indiana University Press, 2013), He is currently engaged in two book projects: (Supra)national Geographical Imaginaries: The Birth and Growth of Yugoslav Nonfiction Film, 1944-1958 and A Companion to Documentary Film History (Wiley-Blackwell).  His work has been published in journals such as ​Cinema Journal; Journal of Visual Culture; Culture, Theory, and Critique; and Studies in Documentary Film.

The Chicago Film Seminar is held at DePaul’s Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.

Monday, January 4, 2016

January 13: "Why Film History?: Discipline, Institution, and the Archive in Spanish Cinema Studies"

Please join the Chicago Film Seminar on Wednesday, January 13th, at 6:30pm, for an exciting roundtable discussion, titled “Why Film History?: Discipline, Institution, and the Archive in Spanish Cinema Studies.”

Roundtable participants, Professors Vicente Sánchez-Biosca and Steven Marsh, describe the event as follows:

This discussion seeks to address approaches to the cinema of Spain. While Film History as a sub-discipline of cinema and media studies is an important institutional component of almost all media and cinema studies departments, in Spain—uniquely—it is the dominant field in such departments. Indeed, Film History is so dominant that anyone – absolutely anyone – writing on film is considered to be a film historian. 

History has a particular resonance in Spain, one doubtlessly connected not only to the trauma but also to the telos of the country’s Civil War (about which Vicente Sánchez Biosca has written extensively). This discussion aims to interrogate historiography and historical discourse as they apply to film. It is envisaged that we will focus on questions of the national, on heritage, on trauma and event.   Likewise, we will address the overlap and possible aporia that emerges between history and memory, the way affect and nostalgia shape (or contradict) historical methodologies.

Vicente Sánchez-Biosca is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Valencia and has been a Visiting Professor at New York University, Princeton University, University of Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), University of São Paulo, University of Montréal, among other schools. He was the editor of the journal Archivos de la Filmoteca from 1992 to 2012, and is the author of several books in film theory and history. Among them are Sombras de Weimar. Contribucíon a la historia del cine alemán 1918-1933 (Verdoux, 1990); Teoría del montaje cinematográfico (Filmoteca de la Generalitat Valenciana, 1991); NO-DO. El tiempo y la memoria (Cátedra/Filmoteca Española, 2006) and El pasado es el destino. Propaganda y cine del bando nacional en la guerra civil (both with R. Tranche, Cátedra, 2011); Cine y vanguardias artisticas. Conflictos, encuentros, fronteras (Paidós, 2004); Cine de historia, cine de memoria: La representacíon y sus límites  (Cátedra, 2006); Cine y Guerra civil española (Alianza, 2006). His current research is focused on the production and circulation of images of atrocity in twentieth and twenty-first century cinema, photography, illustrated press, and other media.

Steven Marsh is an associate professor of Spanish Film and Cultural Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is co-editor of Gender and Spanish Cinema (Berg 2004) and author of Popular Film Under Franco: Comedy and the Weakening of the State. He is one of the co-authors on the international collaborative project Cinema and the Mediation of Everyday Life: An Oral History of Filmgoing in 1940s and 1950s Spain. He recently edited a special issue of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies on Spanish film and spectrality. He is currently finalizing a new monograph provisionally titled Spanish Cinema, a Counter-History: Cosmopolitanism, Experimentation, Militancy. He is on the editorial board and one of the founding editors of the Journal of Hispanic Cinemas and he is a member of the editorial collective of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies.    

The Chicago Film Seminar is held at DePaul’s Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

December 4: The Littlest Rebel

Please join Black Cinema House and Chicago Film Seminar on Friday, December 4, 7:00pm, for a screening and discussion of The Littlest Rebel (David Butler, 1935, 74 min). Jacqueline Stewart (University of Chicago, Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, BCH curator) and Miriam Petty (Northwestern University, Assistant Professor of Radio/TV/Film) will introduce and lead discussion afterward.  

Black Cinema House describes the screening as follows:

Featuring the most enduring pairing of Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, The Littlest Rebel focuses on the tribulations of a plantation-owning family during the Civil War. As battles rage and the family is caught trying to flee, the little girl and the slave perform musical numbers together to raise money and secure a pardon from President Lincoln. The Littlest Rebel is also a testament to the enduring cultural practice of blackface minstrelsy, featuring a scene that often surprises contemporary viewers in which Temple, pretending to be a child slave, appears in blackface. Robinson and Temple formed the first interracial dance team on film, and The Littlest Rebel is a strong example of the complex cultural dynamics that governed their performances together.

Please note that the screening and discussion will be held at:

Black Cinema House
7200 South Kimbark Avenue
Chicago, IL
60619 

Summary: Scott Curtis, “Experts and Their Images: Vision, Form, and the Historiography of Media Use”

On October 29th, Professor Scott Curtis (Northwestern University) delivered a talk, titled “Experts and Their Images: Vision, Form, and the Historiography of Media Use,” at the Chicago Film Seminar. A response was provided by Oliver Gaycken (University of Maryland). Using case studies from his book The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany (Columbia University Press), Curtis explored the implications of non-theatrical films (specifically those made by experts such as scientists, physicians, and educators) for film and media historiography. He began by stating the objective of his project: “At the broadest level, I am interested in the criteria for the legitimacy of motion picture technology as a tool or good object within specific disciplines or communities. The book focuses on Germany before World War I to examine the interaction between motion pictures and four disciplines: science (specifically human motion studies, physics, and biology), medicine, education, and aesthetics. Why would these experts use film? What problems presented themselves such that motion pictures were at least a partial solution?” This talk explored the role of film form in these expert appropriations.

Examining the experts’ own writings on their implementation of motion picture technology, his first argument is that the successful appropriation of technology by an expert filmmaker depends on a correspondence between the logic of the discipline—the collective thought style of an expert group, including its investigatory or problem-solving methods and ideological assumptions—and the formal features of the technology, as manifested by the patterns of use. He explained: “In some scientific disciplines, the ability of film to frame and isolate the object under study and to expand or compress time were analogous to features of scientific experiments, such as the ability to isolate variables and to extend observational duration. In other disciplines, film’s temporal discontinuity, indicated by the gap between film frames, matched theoretical assumptions about the discreteness of the physical world, as in physics experiments using film to confirm theories of Brownian motion. For education and aesthetics, the logic of the discipline was less about solving problems than about describing goals or mental operations to attain those goals. For educators interested in the use of film, the consonance between the detail and duration of the moving image and the richness of the natural world created an analogy between the (perceived) realism of the image and the goal of visual instruction, which was to teach students to dwell on natural detail, recognize objects, and place them in logical and social contexts.” As each group worked with film within its discipline, it privileged some formal features over others.

If the larger argument of the book concerns the correspondence between technology’s formal features and the logic of the discipline, then the specific argument of the book is that “the acceptance of film as an appropriate tool or good object within a discipline depended on an alignment between the formal features of the filmic image and the practices and ideals of that discipline’s modes of expert viewing.” What important implications does expert viewing have for film and media historiography? Professor Curtis contends that engaging with the “proper” viewing model from descriptions of the experts’ practice (and noting their denunciations of “improper” viewing) helps us understand the duality of these constructions: "If ‘proper’ modes of viewing relied on ‘improper’ modes as a useful foil, then the opposite is also true: our understanding of spectatorship is incomplete without an understanding of expert observation.” One is the other’s negative space; hence “the shape of spectatorship” is best understood in relation to “the shape of observation.”

Furthermore, film analysis by cinema historians illuminates the relationship between form (style) and the broader historical trends of the time. However, the historiographical model for expert films differs in that it places emphasis on “patterns of use” rather than patterns of style: “Style is important and can be helpful, but patterns of use apply to adjustments to the technology, the circulation of images, the multiple function of any given film, or the role of moving images in a selection of representational options—a partial list at best. Patterns of use provide many more points of contact with the organization’s goals or the discipline’s logic than style alone.” He stressed that an analysis of nontheatrical media that ignores the experts’ own understanding of film form is inadequate, and that patterns of use will only make sense if properly understood against a background of disciplinary (as opposed to technological or aesthetic) context. A responsible analysis of expert filmmaking, then, would entail a significant immersion in their respective fields.

Monday, October 5, 2015

October 29: Scott Curtis, Northwestern University


Please join the Chicago Film Seminar on Thursday, October 29th, at 6:30 PM, to welcome Professor Scott Curtis (Northwestern University) for his talk, "Experts and Their Images: Vision, Form, and the Historiography of Media Use." A response will be provided by Oliver Gaycken (University of Maryland).


Reception to follow!

Scott Curtis is associate professor of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University, director of the Communication Program at Northwestern University in Qatar, and president of Domitor, the international society for the study of early cinema. He has written extensively on scientific and medical uses of motion pictures, and his book on film and expert vision, The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany, has just been published by Columbia University Press. 

Professor Curtis describes his talk as follows:

Expert filmmakers--including scientists, physicians, psychologists, educators, and others who use motion picture technology for their own purposes--have populated the history of film since the beginning; only recently, under the rubric of "useful cinema" or nontheatrical media, have film historians paid them much attention. But this domain brings special demands--including much greater interdisciplinarity—that challenge our usual historiographic methods, especially concerning the function of individual films in our understanding of cinema history. So this presentation will explore the role of the expert in film history, using case studies from The Shape of Spectatorship: Art, Science, and Early Cinema in Germany (Columbia, 2015), while offering a potentially new model of media historiography, particularly for the nontheatrical realm.

The Chicago Film Seminar is held at DePaul’s Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

May 7: Justus Nieland, Michigan State University

Please join the Chicago Film Seminar on Thursday May 7th at 6:30 to welcome Justus Nieland(Michigan State University) for his talk “Management Cinema: Film, Design and Communication in Aspen.” Nieland’s primary research includes modernism, film and media studies, and contemporary fiction. Additional interests include avant-garde and experimental cinemas, the film noir, film and media theory, theories of the affects and emotions, and modern architecture and design. He is the author of Feeling Modern: The Eccentricities of Public Life (U of Illinois Press, 2008), and David Lynch (Illinois, 2012), and co-author (with Jennifer Fay) of Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalization (Routledge, 2010). He is currently co-editor of the Contemporary Film Directors series at the University of Illinois Press. He is working on a book titled Happiness by Design, which explores midcentury designers' interest in moving-image technologies and their role in remaking the sensorium for the conditions of Cold War modernity. 

Nieland describes his talk as follows:

This paper explore the contours of a filmic modernism shaped at the International Design Conference at Aspen, a crucial institution for the midcentury merger of the corporation, the industrial designer, and a late-Bauhaus aesthetic retooled for American-style democratic liberalism. Founded in 1951 by visionary Chicago-based industrialist Walter Paepcke, chairman of the Container Corporation of American, the IDCA would quickly establish itself as one of the world’s most important design conferences, assembling a roster of famous designers (Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Herbert Bayer, Eliot Noyes, Paul Rand, and Saul Bass, among others), artists, educators, corporate executives, and scholars from a diverse range of disciplines for an annual, week-long series of conversations around a predetermined theme. In many ways, the conference was symptomatic of the new professional legitimacy and cultural prestige of the designer at midcentury, and what architectural critic and historian Reyner Banham once referred to as “the problem of affluent democracy” incarnated by the design profession and its expansive liberal optimism. But IDCA also emerged from its founder’s interest in broad-based, humane inquiry into the most pressing problems of the Cold War world “to-be-designed.” This world’s challenges would only be met by open-minded individuals who understood “design as communication,” and thus, thought beyond the limits of their disciplinary training and expertise.

Situating the IDCA as an institution within the Cold War pedagogical reforms with which Paepcke was also involved (both in his Institute for Humanistic study at Aspen and in his patronage of László Moholy-Nagy’s Institute of Design in Chicago), I turn specifically to the 1959 conference “The Image Speaks,” the first at Aspen devoted to the role of film as medium of communication. I demonstrate how the design profession’s increasingly prominent claims on the administration of culture at midcentury is evident in the apportioning of cultural expertise at IDCA, and in the conference’s growing investment in film and the moving-image as management technologies.  The paper describes a brand of designer film theory, and assesses its instrumental modernist vision—at once managerial and democratic, pedagogical and humanist.

The Chicago Film Seminar is held at DePaul’s Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.


Friday, March 20, 2015

April 2: Adam Ochonicky, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Please join the Chicago Film Seminar at 6:30 on Thursday, April 2nd to welcome Adam Ochonicky (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) for his talk "Nostalgic Frontiers" Spatiality, Violence and the Midwest in Badlands  and A History of Violence." Ochonicky received his PhD from University Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Zoran Samardzija (Columbia College) will provide the response. 

Ochonicky describes his talk as follows:

As a region, the Midwest is situated uniquely within the American popular imagination. Often labeled as being “flyover country,” this space and its inhabitants are considered to be both “authentically” American and a cultureless mass. In response to such regional perceptions, this talk examines two intertwined areas of focus: the cultural formation of the Midwest in film and the ever-shifting spatial and violent dimensions of nostalgia. From the closing of the Western frontier to the development of virtual environments online, the distinctive temporal properties of nostalgia have continually complicated and transformed how the Midwest’s place-identity is configured. Using Badlands (1973) and A History of Violence (2005) as case studies, I show how my concepts of “nostalgic spatiality” and “nostalgic violence” operate within cinematic depictions of the Midwest. Nostalgic spatiality refers to nostalgia being projected onto a physical landscape, thereby changing how that space is perceived, understood, or experienced. Nostalgic violence functions as a cultural force that regulates the behaviors and identities of both individuals and communities so that the present might appear as the nostalgic subject desires the past to be. Both Badlands and A History of Violence reimagine the Midwest’s physical territory as a realm in which the nostalgic desire for simultaneity is realized through a violent collapse of the past and present. Within these two films, the Midwest’s identity in American culture thus comes into focus as one of fluctuating meanings that are shaped by the inescapable pull of nostalgic longing.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February 12: Graduate Student Panel

Please join the Chicago Film Seminar at 6:30 pm on Thursday, February 12 to welcome Mary Adekoya (University of Chicago) for her talk, "Narrating Nollywood, Narrating Nigerian Modernity: Observations on the Restless Lives and Reckless Lovers in Nollywood Narratives," and Laura LaPlaca, (Northwestern) for her talk, "Mapping Mayberry: A Re-Appraisal of the Sitcom Mise-en-Scene."  Jake Smith (Northwestern) will provide the response. The CFS will be held at DePaul's Loop Campus in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102, using the State St. entrance located at 247 S. State.

Thursday, February 12 at 6:30pm
Mary Adekoya, Ph.D. Candidate, U.Chicago
"Narrating Nollywood, Narrating Nigerian Modernity: Observations on the Restless Lives and Reckless Lovers in Nollyood Narratives,"
Laura LaPlaca, Ph.D Student, Northwestern
Mapping Mayberry: A Re-Appraisal of the Sitcom Mise-en-Scene"
Respondent: Jake Smith, Northwestern

Adekoya describes her talk as follows:

In this second chapter, from my dissertation “Shadows of Film: Nollywood and the Vernacular Revolution in African Cinema,” I argue that beyond its relation to homegrown modes of artistic expression, Nollywood cinema presents itself as vernacular through, one, – its reflection of what many scholars and cultural critics have identified as the often perplexing nature of everyday life in urban Africa, and two, – its mirroring of the way in which morality has become central to the questions surrounding Nigeria’s potential for full emergence into the world of neoliberal modernity. In essence, this chapter focuses on how Nollywood cinema offers a potent reflection of the everyday discontent and popular discourse on African modernity currently taking place in Nigeria. Its final argument is that this mirroring helps us to understand the “Nollywood revolution” more exactly as a revolution in which the links between cinema, everyday experience, and popular consciousness in Africa have become more solidified and been made remarkably more clear.

LaPlaca describes her talk as follows:

This talk treats the sitcom mise-en-scene as an architectural environment that can be animated by our perceptual play inside it. Sitcom storyworlds are not merely backgrounds for narratives, but generators of rich material and aesthetic resources that audiences can draw on as they navigate their everyday domestic experience. At the most extreme, these spaces can serve as detailed blueprints for viewers engaged in sitcom home re-creation – a practice that is much more prevalent than might be imagined. Using televised domestic storyworlds as models, fans engage in elaborate spatial exercises through dollhouse play, miniature making, virtual world building, and even full-scale custom home construction. However, sitcom home re-creation does not begin with a fan’s devotion, but with the very possibility that these televised spaces might be accurately measured and mapped. This possibility is not inherent to all televised spaces, but is particular to the ways in which the sitcom genre stylistically and discursively presents its storyworlds as accessible and inhabitable. That sitcom architectures are electronically transmitted makes them no less “real,” and certainly no less significant, than other historical structures; following Baudrillard, the “real” becomes that of which it is possible to give an accurate reproduction. Focused on one fan’s remarkable re-creation of The Andy Griffith Show’s mise-en-scene, I will explore some of the ways that sitcom storyworlds have historically been designed to not only represent domestic spaces, but to be domestic spaces.