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August 2004, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 25 Aug 2004 15:17:28 +0100
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Jancovich <[log in to unmask]>
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Generic Canons: Genre, History and Memory

Edited by Lincoln Geraghty and Mark Jancovich

Histories of science fiction often discuss Metropolis as a classic text
within the genre but the term science fiction wasn't invented until several
years after its release. The term has therefore retrospectively applied to
the film but how was it generically identified before the invention of the
term? Indeed, even once they have been invented, generic terms change
meaning over time. As James Naremore has shown, the meaning of film noir was
something very different in the late 1940s to the meaning of the term in the
late 1950s. In the process, films shift meaning and status. Many films are
derided on release as symptoms of generic degeneration, only to be refigured
by later periods as classics or even as radical transformations of the
genre. The reverse is also true: films such as The Blair Witch Project have
been praised as important and innovative on their release only to look
increasingly irrelevant in retrospect. The following collection aims to
examine the processes through which generic histories and memories have been
constructed and reconstructed, and to offer understandings of how genres and
generic texts have been understood in other periods. The collection is
interested in contributions on film and television but will consider other
medium such as fiction, comics and computer games.

The topics discussed might include some of the following:

* How were specific films understood before the invention of the terms by
which they are currently identified?

* How have generic terms changed meaning over time, or what did specific
terms mean at specific moments?

* What was the meaning and significance of generic terms that have now
fallen out of use or been forgotten all together?

* What is the relationship of genre terms to other types of classification?
Children's film and television often features science fiction, horror and
fantasy but these productions rarely feature in accounts of these genres,
which tend to privilege 'adult' entertainment. Alternatively, why do certain
forms of children's entertainment become redefined as classics?

* How have film industries understood or used generic terms historically? As
Handel shows, the industry used generic terms in the 1940s but they were
very different to those used today by academics and fans.

* How does marketing, exhibition and scheduling work generically? For
example, what are the processes of classification involved in the creation
of generically identified channels such as the Sci-Fi Channel or the Horror
Channel on satellite and cable; what are the processes through which they
are scheduled; and what impact does this have on the meaning of generic

* How are these processes related to technology? Many emerging technological
services, such as Tivo and Sky plus, offer select films and television
programs to the consumer. In other words, they make suggestions, and
sometimes even decisions, about the texts that viewers might like to watch,
but such decisions are based on the technological identification of these
texts generically. Who identifies these texts; how does the technology work;
and what are their effects on viewing choices and more general
understandings of genre?

Schedule for completion:

Please send proposals or finished articles to both editors by December 1st
Acceptance or rejection will be confirmed by 1 February 2005
Finished articles will then be due no later than 1 July 2005
Requests for revisions will be sent by 1 September 2005
Revisions will be due no later than 1 December 2005
Submission of final manuscript due 1 April 2006


Lincoln Geraghty
Institute of Film Studies
School of American Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
United Kingdom
Email: [log in to unmask]

Mark Jancovich
2.45 Arts Building
Film and Television Studies
University of East Anglia,
Norwich, NR4 7TJ,
United Kingdom.
Tel: 01603 592787
Email: [log in to unmask]

Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: