Update: Nick Davis of Northwestern University will serve as respondent for
the below panel.
Proposed Panel: Gus Van Sant
Organizer: Justin Horton, Georgia State University
Respondent: Nick Davis, Northwestern University
Few contemporary filmmakers have amassed a body of work as intriguingly
heterogeneous as that of Gus Van Sant. Ranging from New Queer Cinema (*Mala
Noche*, *My Own Private Idaho*) to more mainstream “indie” successes
Cowboy*), Hollywood acclaim (*Good Will Hunting*, *Milk*) to an art cinema
“death trilogy” (*Gerry*, *Elephant*, *Last Days*), Van Sant’s career is
marked by abrupt shifts in subject matter, style, and mode of production.
Further, he proves himself to be quite the rarity—both an art house critical
darling and a Hollywood “A-list” director. And yet, in spite of this
heterogeneity, there remains a distinctive authorial temperament.
Being that Van Sant’s work is so diverse, it may be approached from many
angles and lends itself to a number of theoretical lenses. This panel seeks
to explore this rich body of work, one that has received relatively scant
scholarly attention. We are presented now, 25 years after the release of Van
Sant’s debut feature, *Mala Noche*, with an opportune moment to consider
more fully this singular filmmaker.
Topics might include (but are not limited to) the following:
-Adaptation of novels (*Mala Noche*, *Even Cowgirls Get the Blues*, *To Die
For*) and other films (*Psycho*)
-Van Sant’s appropriation of historical events and figures, both overtly
(Harvey Milk) and by approximation (the Columbine massacre in *Elephant*,
Kurt Cobain in *Last Days*)
-Queerness in/and Van Sant’s films
-Inspiration/citation/simulation (Warhol, Hitchcock, Bela Tarr, etc)
-Non-linearity and temporality
-Outsiders and marginality: Van Sant as “outsider art”; “indie” auteur;
outcasts as characters
-Van Sant and locale: the centrality of Portland as both location and
setting; the city and the suburb
-Van Sant and youth: the figure of the boy as protagonist; initiation as
Please send 300-word abstract with 3-5 bibliographic sources and a brief
author biography by August 8, 2010 to Justin Horton ([log in to unmask]).
Notifications of acceptance will be sent by August 13, 2010.
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