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CFP (SCMS Panel): Utopia and Dystopia in Film

Dear Colleagues,

I am assembling a panel in consideration for the upcoming Society for Cinema
and Media Studies Conference in Los Angeles—March 17 through March 21—and
soliciting proposals to compliment my own paper on issues surrounding utopia
and dystopia in film. If you could forward this message to any students
(graduate level and above) and scholars, I would be much obliged.

Regards,
James Crawford, Ph.D. Student
Critical Studies Program, School of Cinematic Arts
University of Southern California
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CFP: Utopia and Dystopia in Film

Scholarship on utopia and the media tends to structure itself along two
major trajectories: in “Entertainment and Utopia,” Richard Dyer establishes
a paradigm of wish fulfilment, exploring how a utopic drive permeates
popular musicals and seeks to redress social inadequacies; digital
utopianism, as critiqued by Vincent Mosco’s *The Digital Sublime*, is where
advancements in telecommunications promise to improve all material
circumstances, regardless of demographics. Whether textual or
infrastructural, Dyer and Mosco both gloss utopia’s ameliorative
connotation, eu-topos or good-place. Rendered transiently through light and
sound, cinema evokes utopia’s other meaning as an ephemeral non-space;
appropriately, the medium has lent itself to many enactments of utopia and
its inverse, dystopia. Like their literary counterparts, the utopic and
dystopic in film have often been used as satirical vehicles—to express
misgivings of current social-political climates by extrapolating and
articulating particular, usually pessimistic, visions of the future.
However, though the literary tradition has been subject to many different
theoretical frameworks, there still remains a space to expand utopian
studies with respect to the moving image.

This panel seeks to incorporate and move beyond well-established
intellectual modes to open up utopia/dystopia to broader discursive enquiry
within cinema and media studies. These potential fields include: utopia as
genre with its own syntactical and semantic particulars; the politics of
adaptation (*1984*, *V for Vendetta*) or remake (*La Jetée* into *12 Monkeys
*); performed in the contemporary moment or as an act of historical
nostalgia and longing; as a visual rhetoric (art direction, architecture,
etc.) or performance style; as a reflexive interrogation of the cinema; as
treatments of gender and sexuality; as imbricated with the human body (*
Gattaca*, *THX 1138*, *Logan’s Run*, *The Island*, etc.); and many more. We
will complicate and negotiate how these most elusive and paradoxical
concepts, utopia and dystopia, manifest themselves in cinema and television
texts and practice.

Please send abstracts, approximately 300 words in length, by August
15th—consult the SCMS website for guidance with format.  Please include
major proposed texts and/or references, and I will respond by August 20th at
the latest. Because every panel ought to be collaborative, we will then
alter our proposal so as to reflect the papers to be delivered.

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