Call for Papers
International Conference at Philipps University, Marburg, Germany
June 5-7, 2013
Organized by Central Connecticut State University and Marburg University
“Melancholia: Imaging the End of the World”
Deadline for submissions: August 1, 2012
We live in a world at risk. Various prophecies and clandestine calendars point to the end of the world, while serious theorists engage with the idea of “scenario planning” as a scientific tool for the evaluation of the future. Even the fictions of contemporary reality and social life present narratives of decay and the end of a commonly shared social reality.
The 21st century has, so far, been overwhelmed by these references to catastrophic future scenarios: nuclear factories will explode, climate change will lead to a devastated planet, anthrax will pollute the drinking water of a megalopolis. As leading futurologists Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall state, “We live in a world of surprises (…) yet even the most devastating surprises are inevitable.” Similarly, sociologist Craig Coulhon, future Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has advanced the idea of an “emergency imaginary” in order to underline the discontinous development of the future. Despite their orientation towards the future, these catastrophic scenarios function to organize present social reality, and all are reflected in our audiovisual media.
We seek papers on a broad spectrum of issues and historical moments that engage critically with the topic of Visions of the End of the World, in Film, Television and Digital Media. In the aftermath of 9/11, directors have dealt with the trauma of terrorism, and the outbreak of war, and the loss of control of our technology in many different ways. One result is the emergence of the American disaster film. Another is the translation of our anxiety about a changing global climate and geo-political relations into visions of the apocalypse. Still others articulate fears for the future of the planet by depicting chemical warfare, environmental disasters, or a human-made Armageddon. Other visions, including those formidably produced for television, translate those fears into a bleak picture of contemporary society.
Our media has a long history of these portrayals. One of the earliest is certainly Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds,” the infamous 1938 radio program about alien spaceships landing in a rural field in New Jersey (adapted into a movie in 2005). Another classic example is Chris Marker’s science fiction apocalyptic fairytale La Jetée (1962) that was adapated in Terry Gilliam’s film Twelve Monkies (1995). Stanley Kubrick’s grotesque tale Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) about the nuclear holocaust may also belong in this series of early treatments of our topic. More recent depictions of the end of the world are Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985), Michael Haneke’s Time of the Wolf (2003), and even Andrew Stanton’s children’s film, Wall-E (2008). Two years ago John Hillcoat’s The Road (2009) made headlines, and 2011 brought numerous Visions of the End of the World to the screen: from Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (our conference namesake), to Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter (2011), to one of the first 9/11 adptations by Stephen Dauldry, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011).
Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
Climate Change and Other Environmental Disasters
Life after Death: the World Underground
Responses to 9/11
No food, No Water: Living the Apocalypse on Earth
Zombies and the End of Civilized Society
The End of Planet Earth
Mad Scientists and Nuclear End of the World
Surviving the Apocalypse
Tsunamis, Tidal Waves and Meteors
Alien Invasions and Time Travel
Erosions of Society
Please submit 500 word abstracts to both conference organizers. The completed papers will be due on May 1, 2013. Each presenter will have 15-20 minutes for presentation, in order to allow for 15 minutes of discussion. Panels will consist of three presenters and run 1:15 min. Rooms will be equipped with computers, projectors, access to the internet. You are welcome to bring your own laptops with connectors. Please be aware that Germany’s standard system is Pal not NTSC, if you choose to include film clips. Please indicate if you may be willing to Chair a panel.
Prof. Dr. Angela Krewani Karen A. Ritzenhoff, Ph.D.
Philipps University, Marburg, Germany Professor, Dept. of Communication
Institut für Medienwissenschaft Women, Gender and Sexuality St.
Philipps University Central Connecticut State University
Wilhelm Röpke Str.6A 1615 Stanley Street
Tel: 011-49-(0)-6421-2824691 Tel.: (860)-832-2692
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