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CALL FOR PROPOSALS – Contemporary American Realism panel at SCMS 2010

Chair: Justin Horton, Georgia State University

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Given that one of the goals of the SCMS 2010 conference is to consider the
“ways in which the past informs current practices,” this panel endeavors to
explore contemporary American realist films and filmmakers in light of a
recent debate surrounding *New York Times* critic A.O. Scott’s suggestion of
an American “neo-neorealism.” This moniker drew vehement objection from *New
Yorker* blogger Richard Brody and a subsequent weighing in from David
Bordwell on his blog. Clearly, the debate over cinematic realism, one of the
medium’s most enduring problems, remains unsettled. What are we to make of
contemporary film that evinces a neorealist influence? Is it simply
postmodern pastiche or the re-flourishing of a tendency that never really
went away? Further, why does the United States prove to be a particularly
fertile ground for realism and why now? It is the goal of this panel to
interrogate contemporary American cinematic realism, its antecedents, its
consequences, and its contexts.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-          “Mumblecore” films (Swanberg, Bujalski, Katz, The Duplass
Brothers)

-          The work of Rahman Bahrani and Transnational American cinema

-          Issues of cinematic ontology in light of digital technologies
(production, exhibition, distribution)

-          The impact of the web/social networking/user-generated content on
conceptions of realism

-          The possibilities of realism in a postmodern era

-          Classical theories of cinematic ontology (Bazin, Kracauer,
Cavell) vs. contemporary theories (Rodowick, Deleuze, Perez)

-          Political, ethical, and aesthetic consequences of realism

Please send 250-450 word abstracts, a brief list of anticipated sources, and
a one-paragraph biography to Justin Horton ([log in to unmask]) by
August 15, 2009.

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