Film Strip image from Wikimedia Commons

Film Strip image from Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Cinema Is: The 2010-11 Theme

The coordinators of the Chicago Film Seminar have taken the unusual step this year of organizing its yearly slate of speakers around a unified theme, taking Dudley Andrew's recent book What Cinema Is! as either a direct or an indirect point of departure. Here is a copy of the prompt distributed to the invited presenters:

"In What Cinema Is! Bazin's Quest and Its Charge (Blackwell, 2010), Dudley Andrew posits classical cinema—fictional feature films made between 1938-1968—as the norm, not as a way of defending the canon for its own sake, but for the sake of defending 'an instinct of looking and listening' that developed out of long, critical engagement with that form of cinema. For Andrew, 'the legacy surrounding the feature film has caused the most heated and robust debates in film theory,' and if we are to cherish anything in a time of disciplinary upheaval, we should treasure the energy and focus behind those debates. Indeed, 'such debates...have made cinema studies among the liveliest sites in the humanities for the past half-century. The prospect of the decline of those debates is more worrisome than the putative mutation of their topic.'

"For Andrew, then, it all starts and returns to the feature film and 'the intensity and the focus that films invite and sometimes demand.' As long as we define cinema in multiple ways, according to Andrew, we risk losing the focus that created and defined our field. We invite you to present your latest work as an explicit or implicit response to this idea."

Please join us this year for a series of talks that, in their own ways, will take up some of Andrew's concerns, implicitly or explicitly suggesting some direct replies to his claims.

Links: Buy What Cinema Is! from Wiley-Blackwell or from Amazon

In the Comments: Any thoughts already on Andrew's book, or the CFS theme? Any questions you hope we might consider over the course of the year in relation to 'What Cinema Is,' either during our evening sessions or here on the blog?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Welcome to the CFS Blog

The organizers of the Chicago Film Seminar hope that this blog can achieve multiple purposes for the CFS:

  • Announcing and profiling upcoming speakers
  • Posting abstracts or summaries of CFS presentations
  • Posting summaries of formal responses to talks
  • Allowing for more sustained discussion of the content of these talks, or of other ongoing research projects, new books or articles, etc.
  • Providing links to local film and media departments, resources, and special events
  • Sustaining a communal conversation that encourages greater attendance at monthly talks
  • Encouraging more forms of energetic involvement with the CFS, and ongoing discussions about its goals and prospects

    Please stay tuned as this blog develops. We look forward to seeing you in the comment threads, and at our 2010-11 presentations!

    In the Comments: As a new or a longstanding participant in CFS, what would you most like to see happen on this blog? How can it serve to enrich our Thursday night presentations and conversations, and how can it take on a productive, enjoyable life of its own?