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March 2008, Week 4


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James Cahill <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Mar 2008 14:51:31 +0100
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Apologies for cross-postings...

Accidents in Film and Media

In The Accident of Art (2005), Paul Virilio proposes that “as soon as there is invention, there is accident,” and that the accident “reveals something important that we would not otherwise be able to perceive.” Writing of one momentous invention, Mary Ann Doane identifies cinema’s driving impulse as a “curious merger of contingency and structure,” suggesting that the moving image participates in the taming of the unpredictable while simultaneously reinforcing its power. 

Taking these provocations and paradoxes as points of departure, this special issue of Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture seeks original essays that examine the “something important” revealed by accidents, contingency, and the unexpected specific to media as technologies, expressive forms, and apparatuses of social power. What sorts of histories emerge when we treat media technologies as potential time bombs? media “texts” as veritable train wrecks? and ephemeral traces and transmissions as traumatic scars? How do forces of chance and contingency impact regimes of representation and mediated modes of perception? What political forms do the accidental and the unexpected inspire, imagine, or actualize? How do they intersect or unsettle questions of control, security, risk, wager, preemption, etc.?

In an age marked by increasingly intensified calculation, precision, and the capacity for global destruction, what is the status of chance and contingency? How do contemporary concepts such as viral media, “democratization,” and ubiquity coexist with the digital promise of total numeric control of recorded images and sounds? What is the place of medium specificity and convergence in these discussions, and how have technological alterations (e.g., film-historical developments such as sound, color, and digital recording media) affected the relationship of media (as archives, repetitions, reproductions) to the unexpected? Moreover, how might notions of the accidental, the contingent, and the unexpected also inform the methodologies one uses to think about and interpret systems of representation and media? 

The editors encourage submissions that inspect the unexpected in film and media (from print culture to digital media) from a breadth of disciplinary and methodological perspectives and invite work that focuses on diverse geographical locales and historical moments. Articles should be about 7,500-8,000 words in length, notes included, and formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. The submission deadline is 30 June 2008. Please email all queries and submissions using the subject header “Accidents” to: [log in to unmask] For more information on Discourse see:

Issue Editors:
René Thoreau Bruckner
James Leo Cahill
Greg Siegel

Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
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