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August 1995, Week 4


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Mike Frank <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 21 Aug 1995 10:46:04 -0400
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The following is a call for papers for a special session at the MLA
convention in December of 1996.
        Conventional histories of cinema take as central a distinction seen
as going back to Lumiere and Melies, the distinction between cinema as a
document of the "real" and cinema as an artifice of images.  In this history
the two archetypal--if not seminal--figures are Bazin and Eisenstein, and the
touchstone issue is the nature and purpose of montage.
        But whatever claims earlier arguements about montage may have, recent
developments in the actual practice of film require a rethinking of this
touchstone issue. Recent mainstream [Holywood] cinema--perhaps under the
influence of MTV--has either deviated from or reconfigured the invisible
editing of the classical system of continuity.  The ostensible goal of making
the viewer unaware of the editing process--with the accompanying ideological
goal of "suturing" the viewer into the fantasy space of the diegesis--hardly
seems a tenable explantion when the jump cut is increasingly the lingua
franca of at least certain kinds of mainstream films.
        It would seem then that we either need a new way of coneptualizing
montage or we must find a theoretical justification for seeing MTV style
editing as operating within the frame of the old debate.  This problem is
especially acute for those who teach cinema studies/film theory and who thus
must find a coherent way of relating classical models of cinema to actual
contemporary film practice.
Please send proposals for twenty minute papers, taking any position on this
question, to:   Mike Frank / English Department / Graduate Center / Bentley
College / Waltham MA 02154   or, via e-mail, to <[log in to unmask]>
Proposals should be between 300 and 1000 words long, and should be submitted
by 15 November.
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