Here's a CFP for a special issue of the Journal of Popular Film & Television:
“The Digital Aesthetic of Violence in Contemporary Media”
Call for Submissions for a Theme Issue of Journal of Popular Film and
Co-edited by Stuart Bender and Lorrie Palmer
Since the advent of digital technologies in cinema, notions
of realism, authenticity, and affect have driven theoretical and public
discourses around the image. Cinema’s origins as a photographic medium of
indexicality—in which the representation of a thing can stand in for the thing
itself—have been drawn across a new technological face. From real to hyperreal,
digital cinema (as well as other media) unites producers’ control over form and
content with spectators’ perceptual literacy. How CGI and other forms of
digital imaging are deployed specifically for the visual representation of
violence is the point at which realism, authenticity, and affect find their
most vivid framework. In her account of the aesthetics of violence in
contemporary media, Gwyn Symonds proposes a similar spectrum. In considering
the “textual representation of violence on a continuum, from the indexical to
the most stylized,” she notes that we can make a connection between the
“aesthetic aims” of the text and the viewer’s experience of it (2011).
Therefore, when we ask what real
digital violence looks like, we can examine the complex intersections between
social anxieties around offscreen violence and the aesthetic appeal of its
In the two decades since Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump (1994) visualized the
dismemberment of a veteran’s legs using digital technology (Prince 1996), there
have emerged significant opportunities for media productions to represent,
enhance, augment and simulate violence. In the contemporary milieu, where
virtually all images originate as digital files that can be endlessly
manipulated or regenerated, it is important to question what aesthetic
limitations and possibilities are posed by contemporary digital technologies in
representing screen violence.
This special issue of the Journal of Popular Film and Television is designed to focus on the
implications of the relationship between digital technologies and the aesthetic
Contributors may explore (but are not limited to) questions such
In what ways has the digital aesthetic changed
the visual expression of violence in specific traditional media
genres—action-adventure, science fiction, horror, crime dramas and police
How has the increased accessibility and affordability
of digital technologies impacted production, reproduction, circulation,
consumption of, and discourses around violent imagery?
What can we learn about the cultural and
historical impacts of the real-world violence encountered by citizen reporters
transmitting digital video—live and viral—of pro-democracy protests worldwide?
How has the digital aesthetic reimagined war and
combat, from live feeds in war zones to film and television narratives, to
videogame battle scenarios? In what ways has this impacted popular and critical
reception of war-themed media?
As digital imaging continues to blur the line
between live-action and animation, how has the aesthetic realism of violence
changed—for media industries, filmmakers, and spectators?
How has the audience experience and expectations
of cinematic and televisual verisimilitude been transformed by spectacular
displays of bodies, vehicles, and skyscrapers programmed into hyperreal
In what ways are digital capabilities in visual
contemporary media shifting non-Western visual culture relative to Western
How has the expression of violence changed over
time in light of digital technologies? How might comparative analyses map out
diverse aesthetic practices attached to violent imagery across film history?
Possibilities: Soviet montage, Italian Neorealism, New Hollywood, the cinemas
of Hong Kong (John Woo, Tsui Hark, et al), Australia (from Mad Max to Romper Stomper to Fury Road), and the bloodless blockbuster in the vein of 2012 and The Transformers franchise.
What impact has the digitized visualization of
violence onscreen had on raced, classed, and gendered representations and/or
real-world identity formations?
We encourage a variety of academic, historical, critical,
analytical, and theoretical approaches, as well as submissions from authors in
the popular press. Submissions should be limited to twenty-five pages,
double-spaced, and conform to MLA style. Please include a fifty-word abstract
and five to seven key words to facilitate online searches. Send an electronic
copy no later than October 15, 2015 to Stuart Bender, Department of Film and
Television, Curtin University, email [log in to unmask] OR Lorrie
Palmer, Department of Communication and Theatre, DePauw University, email
[log in to unmask]
To sign off Screen-L, e-mail [log in to unmask] and put SIGNOFF Screen-L
in the message. Problems? Contact [log in to unmask]