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University of Salford

Screens and Mediations CCM Seminar Series

 

 

 

Wednesday 14th October: Yvonne Tasker, University of East Anglia

Room AH012 Adelphi House

Smoke and Mirrors: "Psychic" Cops, Pseudo-Science and Male Intuition in Crime Television.

 

The intuitive cop/amateur investigator is a staple of crime fiction and crime television: the details that bother Columbo, say, and his uncanny ability to hone in on the perpetrator.  A sort of trickery linked to a high degree of acuity, an ability to see and to read clothing, patterns of language, body language and facial expressions was also of course a defining feature of Conan Doyle's fictional creation Sherlock Holmes.  Holmes performs his ability to deduce the personal history and character of individuals on first meeting for an admiring audience pre-figuring numerous analytic and intuitive cops in the genre.  In this paper I explore a clutch of recent (and some not so recent) investigative shows - including The Mentalist, Lie to Me, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent - in which the specialist investigative forms of knowledge deployed are simultaneously explicable in objective terms and yet in some sense staged as magical, a demonstration of smoke and mirrors performed for a diegetic audience of regular cops and for the viewing audience (just as Holmes routinely performs his insight and brilliance for the dim-witted yet loyal sidekick Watson).  In the process I single out for attention the reinvigorated character types of hyper-intuitive or perceptive men and the damaged genius, a figure whose very brilliance/intelligence has resulted in social isolation.  Notably, while it is ethereal women who populate post-feminist Gothic in shows such as Ghost Whisperer and Medium (and arguably Cold Case), contemporary crime television is just as likely (if not more likely) to figure women as pragmatic, by the book investigators.

 

Yvonne Tasker is Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia.  She is the author and editor of several books exploring popular cinema and culture, most recently (with Diane Negra) "Interrogating Postfeminism: gender and the politics of popular culture" (2007).  Her new book, "Soldiers' Stories: Military Women in Cinema and Television since WWII" is forthcoming with Duke University Press.  She is currently researching American crime television in a global context.

 

 

 

Tuesday 20th  October: Robert Sinnerbrink, Macquarie University , Sydney

Room AP307 Adelphi Building

'Why I am not a cognitivist': Reflections on the Philosophy of Film and Film-Philosophy'

 

Contemporary film theory and philosophy of film has been undergoing something of a paradigm shift in recent decades. Grand Theory has been sharply challenged, even supplanted by the new wave of analytic and cognitivist approaches to film. Film theory inspired by movements in 'Continental' philosophy--psychoanalysis, structuralism, and then poststructuralism--have been attacked for their dogmatism, lack of rigour, and obscurantism, or for their pseudo-theoretical attempts to detect ideological manipulation in the very act of viewing movies. Must we acquiesce, however, to the triumphant analytic-cognitivist turn? In my discussion I shall explore an alternative approach to thinking about film that takes seriously the notion that 'film thinks'. Despite the superficial anatagonism between partisans of 'Continental' and 'analytic' approaches to film, I want to suggest that the relevant difference here is between traditional philosophy of film (where film remains the fixed object of conceptual analysis, quasi-scientific theorisation, etc.) and a more radical film-philosophy (where film is acknowledged to engage in thinking on its own terms, and hence the film-philosophy relationship between is more dialogical, reflective, and mutually transformative). In the former approach, philosophy appropriates film and thereby confirms its own conceptual authority, while in the latter approach film transforms philosophy, which puts its own status and authority into question. I conclude with some critical remarks on the limits of attempts to construct 'theories' of film, and argue that it is more fruitful to distinguish between the use of theoretical models to propose explanations of various phenomena relevant to Film in general, and the practice of philosophical film criticism primarily concerned with the aesthetics, interpretation, and experientially grounded understanding of singular films, styles, and genres.

 

Robert Sinnerbrink is lecturer in Philosophy at Macquarie University, Sydney. He is the author of Understanding Hegelianism (Acumen, 2007), co-editor of Critique Today (Brill, 2006), and has written numerous articles on film and philosophy, including discussions of films by Greenaway, Lynch, Malick, and von Trier. He is currently writing a book on new approaches to film philosophy.

 

 

 

Wednesday 4th November, Jussi Parikka, Anglia Ruskin University

Room AH012 Adelphi House

 

Media Ecologies of Animal Intensities: Ecosophy and Media Studies

 

This paper focuses on the transpositions of media and nature through recent art projects such as Harwood, Wright and Yokokoji's Eco Media (Cross Talk) and Garnet Hertz's Dead Media lab. The Eco Media project developed new modes of thinking media (ecology) through a tracking of the intensities of nature. However, in this case the medium is understood in a very broad sense to cover the ecosystem as a communication network of atmospheric flows, tides, reproductive hormones, scent markers, migrations or geological distributions. The project(s) do not focus solely on the ecological crisis that has been a topic of media representations for years, but they seem to engage with a more immanent level of media ecology in a manner that resembles Matthew Fuller's call for "Art for Animals." Media is approached from the viewpoint of animal perceptions, motilities and energies (such as wind) that escapes the frameworks of "human media." In this context the rhetorical question of the Ecomedia project concerning non-human media is intriguing: "Can 'natural media' with its different agencies and sensorium help to rethink human media, revealing opportunities for action or areas of mutual interest?" In other words, media of animals and nature becomes an "ecosophical" (Guattari) probe head for such intensities that escape that of the human being; a machine for experimentation.

 

Despite the focus on the old media of nature, such a project is emblematic of concerns that stem from a high-tech network culture. Ideas stemming from animal worlds and nature are increasingly used as tools to understand high tech culture, and they expand the notion of "medium" to take into account nonhuman energies of intensive and topological kinds.

 

 

 

Jussi Parikka teaches and writes on the cultural theory and history of new media. He has a PhD in Cultural History from the University of Turku, Finland and is Reader and Pathway Leader in Media Studies at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK. He is also the co-director of the Anglia Research Centre in Digital Culture (ArcDigital).

 

 

Homepage: http://www.jussiparikka.com <http://www.jussiparikka.com/> .

 

 

 

Wednesday 18th November, Sunil Manghani, York St. John

Room AH012 Adelphi House

 

Re-Scaling Images of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

 

The fall of the Berlin Wall was a global media-event. Yet, little critical attention has been given to the images of this event. Two film comedies, Helden Wie Wir (1999) and Goodbye Lenin! (2002), offer some visual deliberation.  The paper draws insight from a concept of the 'metapicture' to extend the notion of the 'public sphere/screen' to that of public screening, with the films under analysis shown to offer layered, loaded narratives that do not simply add to the public screen, but provide a point of concentration whereby a public can 'screen' or 'filter through' multiple aspects of a media event.

 

Dr. Sunil Manghani is Reader in Critical and Cultural Theory at York St John University. His publications appear in Theory, Culture & Society, Film International, Invisible Culture, Journal of Visual Art Practice, and Culture, Theory and Critique. He is author of Image Critique (Intellect, 2008) and co-editor of Images: A Reader (Sage, 2006), an anthology of writings on the image from Plato to the present.

 

 

All talks 5 - 6pm. (Lecture 45 mins, Q&A / discussion afterwards)

 

Locations:

http://www.salford.ac.uk/travel/campus-map.pdf

Adelphi House is number one

Adelphi Building is number two

 

Contacts:

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Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
http://www.ScreenSite.org