The Charles Chaplin Conference: July 7-10, 2005, London College of
Communication, London UK.
The British Film Institute, in conjunction with the University of
Southampton and the London College of Communication, will be holding a
major conference in the summer of 2005 on the work and worldwide cultural
influence of Charles Chaplin. This will coincide with the establishment of
the BFIís Charlie Chaplin Research Foundation, which is designed to foster
innovative research in relation to Chaplin and his contemporaries. The
emphasis will be on dialogue and the bringing together of archivists,
researchers and scholars from a wide range of disciplines for the
presentation of papers and symposia to reassess Chaplinís impact and
influence on film and the arts and modern culture. Proposals are invited
for papers covering areas of study such as, but not exclusively, film
history and aesthetics, archive and restoration, literary and cultural
modernism, theatre history, transnational currents of production and
reception, and social and cultural history.
We wish to encourage a wide range of approaches and areas of study but as
a guide possible areas of focus are:
Performance History: Papers for this area are invited concerning Chaplin
and the performing traditions that informed his work as well as his
influence on subsequent artists and traditions in the realms of Film,
Music Hall, Dance, Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Theatre History.
Chaplin as Transnational Star: Chaplinís star persona and his popularity
have often been cited as Ďuniversalí. Papers are invited here to consider
and question this axiom in relation to his popular critical reception both
inside and outside the United States but particularly the interrelation
between Chaplin as Hollywood icon and the negotiation with that image
beyond the US. Areas of focus could include Chaplin Imitators, Chaplin as
International Icon, Chaplin and Fan magazines.
Chaplin and Sentiment: Much has been made over the years of Chaplinís use
of sentimentality and this has most often been invoked as a critique.
Rather than resurrect this, approaches are invited which address sentiment
along lines which explore Chaplinís use of, and influence by, this
tradition in Victorian popular culture ranging from popular fiction to
popular theatre and music hall.
Chaplin and Comic Traditions: Chaplinís influence on film and television
comedy in the work of, for example, Jerry Lewis, Jacques Tati, Lucille
Ball, Carol Burnett or Danny Kaye, is evident if not entirely well
recognised. Possible areas of focus could consider both the vulgar roots
of Chaplinís comedy and/or his enduring influence, recognised or not, on
subsequent and contemporary comedians in, but not limited to, Hollywood
(e.g. Adam Sandler, Jackie Chan, Jennifer Saunders etc.).
History of Film Aesthetics: Entering the film industry in 1914 Chaplin
learned his craft alongside the rise of what is now referred to as the
classical Hollywood style. Papers here could focus on Chaplinís
contribution to the development of film aesthetics in areas such as his
use and engagement with the Hollywood style, Comedy and the rise of
Narrative Cinema or the rise of the feature film. Chaplin is also
pertinent to wider issues in film aesthetics such as Auteurism, the Avant-
Garde, or non-narrative filmmaking.
Industry History: Chaplinís relationship with the Hollywood majors was
unique and often antagonistic. Papers here could include areas such as
Chaplin and United Artists, Chaplin as Independent producer/director,
Chaplin and the Hollywood System, Chaplinís role in Hollywood Exhibition
and Distribution history worldwide.
Chaplin and the Intellectuals: Twentieth Century thinkers such as George
Bernard Shaw, the Frankfurt School, Henri LeFebvre and artists such as
Rene Clair to Samuel Becket found in Chaplin a cipher for the modern
subject. Papers here could include work on Chaplin and Walter Benjamin,
Chaplin and the Frankfurt School, Chaplin and the City, Chaplinís Ďhigh
cultureí critical reception and modern taste formations.
History and Uses of Chaplin Ďs Star Image: Chaplinís star image has been
appropriated and incorporated in almost innumerable ways perhaps most
famously in the 1970s by IBM. This area encourages papers on a wide range
of the ways in which Chaplinís image in its many forms (i.e. tramp,
inebriate, immigrant, cross-dresser) has been utilised for varied ends and
Literary History: Chaplinís tramp character has been the springboard for
works of fiction as well as critical speculation. In turn his characters,
the settings as well as the narratives themselves, drew upon literary as
well as theatrical antecedents. Papers here may consider areas concerning
Chaplinís relationship to literature in areas such as Chaplin and Dickens,
Chaplin and Popular Literature, Literary Modernism, Chaplin and Ďhigh
Macro and Cultural Politics: Chaplinís status as immigrant and, according
to the FBI, potential political agitator are just two of a number of areas
for exploration as is his work and image in relation to cultural politics
from issues of globalisation to identity politics. Areas of interest would
be McCarthyism, The American Left, Exile and Diaspora, Chaplin and
Jewishness, Class, Gender and Sexuality.
Preservation of Chaplin films: The work of Association Chaplin in Paris,
Progetto Chaplin at Bologna University and the Chaplin Foundation at the
British Film Institute are central to the preservation and restoration of
Chaplinís work. However, his films, particularly the early material exist
in numerous forms and editions. This area invites archivists and
researchers to offer work on approaches to archiving and restoring the
multiple versions and permutations of his work that is out there now.
Chaplin and Music: Chaplinís work on film music and as a songwriter offer
a range of possible areas of work, from his influences to his compositions
for his own films. Proposals are invited on any of the varied aspects of
Chaplin and music.
Papers are expected to be no longer than 20 minutes in length. Proposals
of no more than 300 words should be sent by post or email attachment no
later than February 28, 2005 to:
The Charles Chaplin Conference
c/o Alison Kirwan
PA to Head of Library and Education
British Film Institute
21 Stephen Street
London W1T 1LN
Email: [log in to unmask]
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7957 4786
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7436 7950
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu