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Silent Cinema and Time Travel (SCMS 2013) (SCMS 2013)

Organization: SCMS
Event: SCMS 2013
Categories: American, Interdisciplinary, British, Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, 20th & 21st Century, 20th & 21st Century, Film, TV, & Media
Event Date: 2013-03-06 to 2013-03-10 Abstract Due: 2012-08-10

This panel poses methodological questions about the resurgence of interest in early film history by interrogating the thematic of time travel in silent cinema. The emergence of cinema itself constitutes a form of time travel, at once "mummifying” contingent moments and making them portable for reenactment in the present, and inventing parallel futures and histories by innovating new cinematic techniques (stop-motion photography, trick splices, enlargements of miniature objects, color tinting and toning, undercranking, smoke and mirrors, etc). This panel invites papers that approach time travel as a self-reflexive trope, indeed a preoccupation of the silent screen, for representing the technological implications of the new medium and its relation to broader processes of modern mass culture. What are the different iterations of "time travel” in silent cinema? What does time travel mean within its specific historical and geographical contexts? What are the appeals for present day film spectators and media scholars of returning to these early and transitional film objects? How do our parallel historiographies negotiate between time travel "attractions” and narratives from the past, and "time travel” methodologies that proliferate in the present?

Possible Paper Topics Include:

-Early fantasy films, science-fiction, filmed magic tricks and conjuring acts
-Animation, uses of color, and special effects in silent cinema that distort or manipulate film temporality
-Actualities and travelogues
-"Liveness” v. Past-ness: live lecturers, musical performers, and the pseudo-liveness of when early films were churned out quickly and then projected hours later; in contrast, pre-recorded sounds and images projecting "far-away” times and places
-Re-enactments and early war films
-Continuity editing and film syntax as forms of "time travel”
-Historiography— time travel as a critical question for placing film studies in its contemporary "new media” landscape
-Distribution, re-release, and cinema's commodity and artistic circulation post-production
-Time travel and embodied spectatorship: what are the affects of time travel?
-Genres of time travel: Historical epics and Westerns, "comedic timing,” the too-lateness of melodrama, speculative times depicted in mystery, fantasy and other genres

Please send a 250-300 word proposal with works cited and a short bio to Maggie Hennefeld at margaret_hennefeld@brown.edu by Friday, August 10, 2012.


Maggie Hennefeld