With apologies for possible cross-postings ... thank you! Angelica


The Autobiographical ‘Turn’ in Germanophone Documentary

Robin Curtis                    			Angelica Fenner
Assistant Professor             		Assistant Professor
Collaborative Research Centre   	German & Cinema Studies
“Cultures of Performativity     	University of Toronto
Freie Universität Berlin        		[log in to unmask]
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Email submission of abstracts of max. 400 words with brief bio blurb by
December 1, 2008
Response and feedback provided by January 15, 2009
Receipt of completed manuscripts of between 6,000-8,000 words  
requested June
15,, 2009

In recent years, some of the most compelling, engaging, and innovative
non-fiction film and video has been generated from a very personal  
point of
view. The first-person stance in filmmaking is hardly new in the  
history of
international documentary, nor is reflexivity about the technological
apparatus which often attends such authorial endeavors. However,  
media (interactive, multi-media, digital camera, mobile phones, etc.)  
expanded the possibilities for framing the self, and indeed, for  
diverse agendas pertaining to personal identity –exploring  
intricacies of
family relations, retracing the individual’s interpellation by local and
national historical events, mapping alterities of sexuality,  
ethnicity, race
and culture, or abnegating the very possibility of a delimited self.  
In many
cases, such endeavors have resulted in the merging or ‘nesting’ of  
obsolete, technologies within newer ones.

As the status of the individual witness behind and before the camera  
global currency in both feature-length documentaries as well as  
experimental work, it behooves us as scholars to take stock of the  
specificity of these autobiographical engagements. Is the self and its
representation in audio-visual form truly so constant that interpretive
models developed in particular cultural contexts, such as the North
American, can simply be mapped onto films from other cultures? Existing
scholarship to date has seldom taken up this challenge. The German- 
countries, in particular, have developed nationally distinct memory  
addressing overarching legacies such as that of the Third Reich, the
post-war division of Germany, and distinct political and economic  
They moreover trace a singular relationship to social and political
categories of ethnicity, and the discourse (or lack thereof) of
multiculturalism. From a production point of view, they also boast  
institutional structures and traditions in support of avant-garde and
independent film, as well as commercial filmmaking.

The anthology Framing the Self is unique in establishing the central
European nexus of Germanophone languages, cultures, and national  
i.e. that of (East and West) Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, as a  
of departure and of possible territorial return. We welcome rigorous and
engaging scholarly essays that take stock of the remarkable  
proliferation of
autobiographical documentary within these national arenas or spanning
transnational pathways established through migration, exile, travel, or
tourism. In acknowledgement of the increasing stylistic heterogeneity  
characterizes contemporary non-fiction filmmaking, we understand the  
‘documentary’ to encompass both narrative-driven feature-length work  
as well
as experimental modes that engage creatively with the lived world. We
encourage thoughtful engagement with existing discourses on  
autobiography in
the domain of literary theory (e.g. post-structuralist,  
materialist, or feminist approaches) in combination with a  
recognition of
the specific constraints and opportunities the audiovisual medium  
analog or digital) poses for artists who ‘cross the frame’ to position
themselves within an interpersonal, familial, national, or transnational
tableau. While filmic autobiography has been taken up by contemporary
theorists such as Michael Renov, Jim McBride, and Elisabeth Bruss, this
volume underscores the need for cultural contextualization when
theorizing constructions of the self.

We recognize that, in some instances, there may be implicit  
challenges to
establishing a given audiovisual text as discernibly  
autobiographical. The
extensive documentary legacy of the GDR, for example, evinces  
virtually no
engagement with the autobiographical self; alternately, within the
avant-garde tradition, the self may elude definition or strive towards
discursive displacement. In general, where is the authoring self to be
located? And how has the auto/biographical stance undercut inherited
distinctions between public and personal archival endeavors? What new
understandings are emerging regarding the relationship between public  
and private experience; canonical historiographies and subjective  
national character and personal identity; and the interrelation between
family and the self? Recent innovations in recording technologies  
have also
prompted experimentation with narrative form, the terms of authorship,
performativity, confessionality, narcissism, and furthermore explore the
political efficacy of inscribing the self. Such analytical  
naturally assume a very different valence in the North American  
context than
in the European; North American scholarship should display a fluency in
recognizing and negotiating these differences.

This anthology will be published in English; however, some funds are
available for non-native English authors outside North America  
assistance with the translation or editing of original work.  
are in progress for publication in one of several university press  
that showcase German-speaking cinemas. We welcome queries or clarifying
questions from potential contributors at any time.

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