SCREEN-L Archives

May 2013, Week 2


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Cynthia Miller <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 May 2013 10:49:28 -0400
text/plain (32 lines)
Historical Film as Commodity: Hyperbolic Alteration (Un)Necessary
An area of multiple panels for the 2013 Film & History Conference on 
Making Movie$: The Figure of Money On and Off the Screen November 20-24, 2013
Madison Concourse Hotel (Madison, WI)
DEADLINE for abstracts: July 1, 2013

AREA: Historical Film as Commodity: Hyperbolic Alteration (Un)Necessary

Historical films shape history in ways that are different from the written word or even oral retellings, providing vivid imagery and action that brings history “to life.”  Often, however, this results in dramatizations that depart, in varying degrees, from what we understand as historical fact, and in the alteration or erasure of details in the process of constructing history-as-spectacle.  

Is this “hype” – the transformation of historical event into cinematic spectacle – a necessary ingredient for the production of historical films? Blockbuster productions of history are aimed at earning a profit, as well as providing historical knowledge. While historical content is the principal attraction for audiences, must this content be commoditized, sensationalized, or hyped in order to “make it” at the box office?  What bearing does this have on the ongoing debate about historical fidelity in an era when much of history seems to be learned from film?  

This area, comprising multiple panels, invites papers that investigate the following questions:
•	Does Hollywood’s foregrounding of star performers bring historical figures alive, or promote a simplistic “great man” view of history?
•	Does the privileging of spectacle and emotional response over subtlety, nuance, and complexity enhance or diminish film’s ability to convey the “truth” of history?
•	How do depictions of history on film differ from depictions in historical novels or (in an age of democratization and popularization) of written history itself?
•	Are some historical events, or kinds of historical knowledge, best “told” through film, because it can convey visual, comedic, or dramatic spectacle like no other medium?
•	Is the struggle to combine historical education and dramatic entertainment in film a zero-sum game, or can historical films do both?

Proposals for complete panels (three related presentations) are also welcome, but they must include an abstract and contact information, including an e-mail address, for each presenter. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (

Please send your 200-word proposal by e-mail to the Area Chair by July 1, 2013:
Vincent Bisson,  Area Chair
Historical Film as Commodity: Hyperbolic Alteration (Un)Necessary
[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]