Please join the Chicago Film Seminar at 6:30 pm on Thursday, January 17 to welcome Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece (Ph.D. Candidate at Northwestern) for her talk, "The Monumental Screen: Perfect Vision, Disembodiment, and American Theatrical Architecture in the Era of Widescreen," and Matt Hauske (Ph.D. Candidate at U.Chicago) for his talk, "The Western's New Horizons: Wide Screens, Big Canvases, and the Great Outdoors in the 1950s." Don Crafton (Notre Dame) 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, January 17 at 6:30pm
Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece, Ph.D. Candidate, Northwestern
"The Monumental Screen: Perfect Vision, Disembodiment, and American Theatrical Architecture in the Era of Widescreen"
Matt Hauske, Ph.D. Candidate, U.Chicago
"The Western's New Horizons: Wide Screens, Big Canvases, and the Great Outdoors in the 1950s"
Respondent: Don Crafton, Notre Dame
Szczepaniak-Gillece describes her talk as follows:
Most histories of widescreen theorize that the expansive screens of the 1950s ushered in a moment of bodily immersion, where the spectator's entire physical form along with her eyes seemed swept up in the picture. This lecture will focus on other discourses of widescreen exhibition, where theatrical space and enormous screen were understood to work together to promote perfect disembodied vision. While a majority of exhibitors and promoters engaged primarily with sensation, others that I will focus on understood the gigantic screen as potentially empathically and psychically rather than bodily liberating. In this way, the architecture of widescreen in the American movie theater can be understood as material expressions of theories of the body's and the mind's proper place in aesthetic experience. By eliminating peripheral theatrical detail and moving the screen farther and farther into the space of reception, some screen and cinema designers sought to freeze spectators into their seats, struck dumb by the monumentality of the images filling the entirety of their line of sight.
Hauske describes his talk as follows:
This paper addresses at the appeal of widescreen cinema processes in the
early 1950s via the western, a genre whose emphasis on landscape and action was
thought to especially suit it to the new screen dimensions. Mainly discussed as
a reaction to the economic and aesthetic threat of television, processes like
CinemaScope and VistaVision also tapped into, and reacted against, other leisure
practices that were increasingly popular among the growing, income-disposing
middle class. In the context of the western, these practices included a host of
"outdoor" activities, including camping, hiking, fishing, and water sports. The
immersive horizontality of widescreen westerns stood in for outdoor experiences
while simultaneously serving as promotions for them. This dual emphasis on
immersion and horizontality is indicative of a larger cultural environment
during the postwar years, one that focused on a break from the mundane reality
of the "organization man" and suburban conformity and that also includes the
loose program of Jackson Pollock's abstract expressionism.