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June 2006, Week 2


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Philippe Meers <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 9 Jun 2006 03:14:33 -0500
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(apologies for cross-posting)
The deadline for submitting abstracts for the international 'Locus of 
Tragedy' conference has been extended!  Please submit abstracts (500 words) 
to [log in to unmask] by 16 June 2006. 
Speakers will be notified of acceptance by 7 July 2006.
New key note speaker:


University of Antwerp, 23-25 November 2006 

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Douglas Kellner (UCLA)
Simon Critchley (New School of Social Research, New York)
Dennis J. Schmidt (Pennsylvania State University)
Terry Eagleton (Manchester University)
Jos de Mul (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)
Karin de Boer (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)
Martina Leeker (Universität Bayreuth; Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

Paul Vanden Berghe, Johan Taels (Centre for Ethics)
Arthur Cools (Centre for Philosophy and Literature)
Kurt Vanhoutte, Thomas Crombez (Aisthesis: Centre for Theatre Studies)
Philippe Meers (Research Group Visual Culture/ECREA)


Ask for the tragic and Europe will answer. 

Leaving behind the philosophers’ enthusiasm of the 19th century, and the 
theatre directors’ excessive performances of the 20th century, ‘tragedy’ 
and ‘the tragic’ now seem little more than vague containers. However, it 
appears that we still discover a tragic essence in our personal lives. Time 
and again tragedy is being registered, written down and staged.

First of all, the colloquium wants to open a philosophical perspective on 
the tragic. What is the locus of tragedy? Does it relate to metaphysics, 
the gods, destiny, and chance? Or is it a matter of ethics, of the Law and 
its transgression? Does man himself occupy the locus of tragedy, because of 
his unreasonable and boundless desires, as many philosophers have 
suggested? Is man today still able to account for his tragic condition?

Additionally we have to discuss the dominant reception history of the 
tragic, which, especially in the vein of the christian tradition, has 
deemed tragedy an untimely genre along with other ‘grand narratives’. The 
opposite proposition must also be considered: suppose that christianity 
generates a unique and perhaps even more pronounced vision of the tragic?

Or do we locate the tragic first and foremost in the esthetic imagination? 
Is not the theatrical genre of tragedy the locus authenticus of all things 
tragic? Is there more to the tragic than drama and play? What about the 
uncanny pleasure of the audience watching human suffering? Does tragedy 
help people in dealing with the tragic experiences of everyday life? How 
far does this performative enactment reach?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when these philosophical questions are posed at the 
turn of the millennium, the move is into the realm of the media. 
Contemporary media keep confronting us with tragic situations, in a variety 
of genres and formats: reality tv, news shows, blockbuster movies, etc. But 
how tragic are these spectacles? Does the mediatisation in television and 
film not multiply the suffering in a way that reaches a degree of 
absurdity? Are the effects of these multiple representations not just as 
comical as they are tragical? And how are these tragic representations 
constructed in the signifying practices of audiences? In short: is the 
contemporary mediascape the locus par excellence for the experience of 
contemporary tragedy or do media merely perform false representations of 
the tragic? 

Finally, media theory urges us to focus on the technological conditions of 
these representations. Does the use of technologies engender a specific 
awareness of the tragic? What are the similarities and the differences 
between ancient techne and contemporary technology in the wake of tragedy? 
And how does today’s multimedia environment necessitate a return to tragedy?

Hence the need for more precise questions and understandings: how can we 
grasp the place that media and technology assign to the tragic? How does 
this relate to the other arts, such as the theatre, birthplace of tragedy? 


Contributions for “The Locus of Tragedy” may be submitted to the organizers 
as listed below. Papers could possibly but not exclusively address: 

Ethical, psychoanalytical, and metaphysical approaches of the tragic
Tragedy and narrative (e.g., the modern novel)
Film, representation and tragedy
Media, reality and discourses on the tragic
Technologies of the tragic
Mimesis and theatricality
The tragic sovereign in drama (e.g., the early modern period)
The tragic body


Please submit abstracts (500 words) to [log in to unmask] by 16 june 2006.
Speakers will be notified of acceptance by 7 July 2006.


“The Locus of Tragedy” is funded by the Research Foundation - Flanders 
(FWO - Vlaanderen).

The media/film sessions are sponsored by the film studies section of ECREA 
(European Communication Research and Education Association).

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite