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July 2002, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 25 Jul 2002 18:23:42 -0400
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Appended below is a CFP for a panel considering the function and value of 
cinema studies as an academic discipline for the meeting of the American 
Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) to be held April 4-6, 2003 at Cal State San Marcos.  The document should speak for 
itself, but a word about the ACLA meeting is called for since it is 
dramatically different from most others. 

At most conferences panels convene once, panelists read papers, there is 
(one hopes) a useful exchange of ideas, and the project ends.  At the ACLA 
meeting each panel ? properly called a seminar ? meets for some two and a 
half hours each day for three days, during which half a dozen to a dozen 
related papers are read, discussed, questioned, and revisited.  At most 
conferences most of the people attending any panel are simply audience 
members.  At the ACLA meeting many if not most of the group attending each 
seminar will be those who have prepared papers for delivery and therefore 
have thought systematically about the issues being discussed.  While 
guests?usually those participating actively in other seminars ? are common 
and welcome, the character of each seminar is shaped by those presenting 
papers in it.  As a result the ACLA meeting offers learning opportunities 
perhaps unmatched at any other conference.

For more info on the conference visit the conference website:

For more info on the ACLA visit the organization website:

For more info on this seminar please contact me via return e-mail.



Historically, departments of literature existed as instruments for 
transmitting a civilization's most honored texts, and the keys for reading 
them, from one generation to the next ? and, along with these texts, the 
civilization's culture and values.  In a "post-everything" age, the 
premises that anchored this enterprise  are called into radical question; 
university humanities departments, can no longer justify their role by 
appeals to conventional values.   Indeed, given contemporary 
preoccupations, a field such as comparative literature, for all its 
capaciousness, seems especially vulnerable to attack because of its 
(ostensive) focus on texts rather than on persons, politics, or programs.  

Since departments of literature have regularly employed ?even defined -- 
the discourses of literary criticism, an attempt to reconsider the role of 
literary study in the contemporary world has to consider as well the 
perennially problematic question of the function of criticism.  This 
seminar proposes to return again to this question, inflected in this 
instance as "the function of academic criticism at the present post-modern 
time."   Because notions of what counts as a text  worth critical analysis 
have changed dramatically, the seminar proposes to re-examine the role of 
criticism by focusing ? significantly but not exclusively ? on a kind of 
criticism that until recently was virtually unknown in literature 
departments, film criticism, and papers that consider approaches to cinema 
studies  are especially welcome.  Nevertheless we invite papers that deal 
with any aspect of the question of how the enterprise of "literary study" 
should be pursued and can be justified absent the cultural assurances of a 
more innocent past.

Some possible topics, in addition to inquiries into specific films or the 
work of specific authors/auteurs, might include: 

-  Textual study and elite culture 
-  The value of aesthetic education in the post modern world
-  The public function of the academic intellectual
-  "Greatness" as a factor in the study of texts
-  Walter Benjamin revisited: what the academic study of film implies for 
the humanities
-  I.A. Richards revisited:  "aesthetics" and politics in post-modernity
-  McLuhan revisited: the political implications of specific media
-  Arnold revisited:  texts and touchstones
-  Teachers teaching students about student culture
-  Pleasure as a valid educational goal
-  Film study and canon formation
-  Teaching texts vs, using texts to teach other things
-  Teaching literature when authorship is dead [or in the hands of a 
multinational corporation]
-  Art and democracy

Proposals, abstracts  or inquiries ? preferably by e-mail -- to Mike 
Frank; e-mail address: [log in to unmask]  [Regular mail address: Mike 
Frank/Dep't. of English/Bentley College/Waltham, MA 02452.]  Deadline for 

For past messages, visit the Screen-L Archives:
receipt of paper proposals: 23 September.