Deadline: August 1st
CFP: SCMS 2015 panel
Film-Philosophy: New Horizons for the Inter-discipline
Panel Organizer: Julien Lapointe
Institutional Affiliation: Concordia University
Since the pioneering work of both Stanley Cavell and Gilles Deleuze, if not before, it is hardly a matter for doubt that Cinema Studies has been marked by a “philosophical turn” — an appeal to canonical thinkers or schools of thought to help better engage with the film object. At the same time, it is difficult not to feel this philosophical turn is still in its infancy. True, the amount of text produced under the rubric of any of the following topics — phenomenological accounts of film and/or the film experience; further applications of Deleuze or Cavell to the cinema; ascertaining the aims of film studies in relation to philosophy; inscribing individual films within identifiable philosophic traditions – is considerable, and only grows yearly.
Nevertheless, much of the work done so far invites further questions. For example, to take only the first and last of the above topics, consider: if film holds a privileged relation to the phenomenal world (i.e. Bazin, and later Sobchack), how to reconcile this to criticisms of so-called “medium-specificity” or the increasing ubiquity of digital cinema?; if individual films are to be treated as philosophical texts, how does their evocation of ideas and insights differ from what one might find in actual philosophical discourse? Such questions have already occasioned debate and need not undermine the legitimacy of philosophizing about film. On the contrary, they serve as a reminder that film and philosophy, as an inter-discipline, no doubt still have much to offer each other.
The papers to be presented at this panel may therefore seek to address film and philosophy as building upon, but also stepping beyond past work done in the field. No less significantly, they might seek to “fine-tune,” as it were, or revisit already well-trodden areas in the intersection of film and philosophy, including historicizing past movements. Or, they might branch out entirely: applying philosophical perspectives, thinkers or schools of thought largely ignored in the humanities, but of relevance all the same to the study of film. Implicitly or explicitly, the papers should inspire some curiosity as to what both film and philosophy are, have been, and might become – although this is not a question that may be answered any time soon…
Topics worth considering include, but are not limited to:
— evaluating the (different) types of knowledge-claims made in film studies in light of philosophical concepts: e.g. Popperian falsification; Kuhn’s paradigm-shifts; Strawson’s distinction between descriptive and revisionary metaphysics; ideal vs. ordinary language philosophy.
— the possibly inherent connections between philosophy as a mode of discourse and cinema as a means of representation: e.g. in the spirit of Merleau-Ponty’s argument in his essay on film; Arthur Danto’s likening of art to philosophy in Greek antiquity.
— placing any moment of the “philosophical turn” within an historical context: e.g. the epistemic/discursive pre-conditions which permitted Cavell to “discover” the comedy of remarriage in the 1970s; Bazin’s phenomenology in post-War France; the turn to analytic philosophy as contemporaneous with so-called “post-Theory.”
— attempting to bridge the gap between apparently irreconcilable philosophical schools through film (e.g. idealism vs. materialism; Cartesian rationalism vs. Lockean empiricism; analytic philosophy vs. pragmatism), or salvaging a frequently assailed philosophy through (e.g. logical positivism).
— examining individual film critics alongside philosophy of art/aesthetics: e.g. critics apparently influenced by philosophers in the manner that Clement Greenberg in the fine arts drew on Kantian aesthetics; Craig Seligman’s unusual contention that Pauline Kael was Aristotelian in her approach to film.
— novel assessments of philosophically-minded filmmakers (e.g. Malick, Godard), or counter-intuitive readings of filmmakers normally not associated with philosophical discourse: e.g. Griffith?; Disney animation?; perhaps even Méliès…
— are certain film genres more amenable to philosophical readings than others: e.g. science-fiction, fantasy, “comedy of remarriage” over action-adventure, musical comedies or slasher films?
— philosophy and films as “bad objects”: could there be a philosophy of B movies, exploitation, even soft-core erotica or porn?
Please submit proposals by August 01 to email@example.com; please include “SCMS” in your subject-line. Recommended proposal length: max. 300 words.