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Call for Papers

Deconstruction and Cinema
2002 Northeast Modern Language Association Convention
Toronto. April 12 & 13, 2002


Because its chief rival, psychoanalysis, has dominated theoretical
discourse on film for the last thirty years, deconstruction has had
relatively little to say about cinema. In part, we can justify this
silence by recognizing that deconstruction is explicitly concerned with
literature. On the other hand, though, deconstruction has tended to expand
the purview of what counts as a literary text. Even the most vigorous and
convincing of deconstructionist advocates of literary specificity, Paul de
Man, has written that "[w]e now have to recognize the necessity of a
non-perceptual, linguistic moment in painting and music, and learn to read
pictures rather than to imagine meaning." This panel, then, will bring
cinema and deconstruction into dialog, considering not only how
deconstruction can address cinema, but also how cinema reflects back on
deconstruction. We might imagine, for example, that an art form rooted so
strongly in the phenomonal status of the photographic object might present
rather a challenge to a discourse that rejects any epistemology rooted in
a pre-linguistic model of perception. Coming at the same question the
other way, however, deconstruction might teach us to pay better attention
to cinema's "rhetoric," the ways in which its technology gives shape to
what we only mistake for a pregiven reality. Deconstruction might also
help us to perceive cinema's deployment of the same techniques to
construct itself as an aesthetic object, despite cinema's very deep
implication in a historical conjunction that has arguably brought
aesthetics to its final crisis. I am not at all interested in presenting
deconstruction as an "alternative" to psychoanalysis in film studies, and
will not welcome papers that valorize deconstruction in the interest of
bashing psychoanalysis. I will welcome papers that either lay out the
theoretical groundwork for a dialog between cinema and deconstruction or
begin that dialog in readings of particular films and/or deconstructive
texts.

Please submit 1-2 page abstracts by September 15 to:

Sean Desilets
Department of English
Tufts University
Medford, MA 02155

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