June 2nd 2017 – Matt Hubbell

Please join us on Friday, June 2nd at 10:30AM in Cobb 311 for the fifth Spring Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This week we welcome Matt Hubbell, PhD Candidate in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies. Matt will be presenting a chapter of his dissertation, Acting After the New Wave: The Political Aesthetics of Performance in France, 1968-1981. The chapter is titled “Exemplary Gestures, Revolutionary Postures, and the Forms of Rupture: Embodying History in the Shadow of ‘68.”

Matt’s paper is available for download here.

Please email either Katerina Korola [katerinakorola@uchicago.edu] or Dave Burnham [burnham@uchicago.edu] for the password.

Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Your coordinators,

Katerina Korola and Dave Burnham

 


Exemplary Gestures, Revolutionary Postures, and the Forms of Rupture: Embodying History in the Shadow of ‘68

The first chapter of my dissertation focuses on a group of films and images produced in the months surrounding the events of May 1968 in France.  In particular, I examine the ways in which these works – including a fiction film made immediately prior to the May events, a famous photograph taken during a demonstration in May, and a short documentary film made in June, as the strikes and protests are subsiding – aim to create or capture bodily gestures that have an exemplary relationship to their historical moment.  While looking at these works in relation to theories of gesture produced by Bertolt Brecht, Vilem Flusser, and Giorgio Agamben, the chapter focuses on the act of posing in order to think about the relationship of gesture and image.  In addition, I argue that the idea of gesture – recently very fashionable in media studies – should be supplemented by a concept of posture, and that this concept can help us to understand the way that these works respond to the complex political and representational challenges of their particular historical moment.

Matt Hubbell is a PhD candidate in the department of Cinema and Media Studies.  His work focuses on post-war French film, cinematic figurations of history, and the place of performance, gesture, and the body in moving images.  He is currently working on his dissertation, “Acting After the New Wave: The Political Aesthetics of Performance in France, 1968-1981.”

May 26th, 2017 – Nicole Erin Morse

Please join us on Friday, May 26th at 10:30AM in Cobb 311 for the fourth Spring Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This week we’re excited to welcome Nicole Morse, PhD Candidate in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies. Nicole will be presenting a chapter of their dissertation on selfie aesthetics, titled “Because of You, I Know that I Exist”: Doubling in Selfie Aesthetics.”

Nicole’s paper is available for download here.

Please email either Katerina Korola [katerinakorola@uchicago.edu] or Dave Burnham [burnham@uchicago.edu] for the password.

Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Your coordinators,

Katerina Korola and Dave Burnham

 


Because of You, I Know that I Exist”: Doubling in Selfie Aesthetics.

This chapter section analyzes doubling as an aesthetic strategy in Claude Cahun’s “self portraits” and argues that doubling is an important aesthetic strategy in selfies, through close readings of selfies by Reina Gossett and Vivek Shraya.

Nicole Erin Morse is a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies, writing a dissertation on selfie aesthetics. Nicole’s research on gender and race in porn, reality television, and art television has been published in Porn Studies, Feminist Media Studies, and Jump Cut.

May 12th, 2017 – Jordan Schonig

Please join us on Friday, May 12th at 10:30AM in Cobb 311 for the third Spring Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This week we welcome Jordan Schonig, PhD Candidate in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies. Jordan will be presenting the introduction to his dissertation on cinematic motion and film theory, titled “Cinema’s Motion Forms.

Jordan’s paper is available for download here.

Please email either Katerina Korola [katerinakorola@uchicago.edu] or Dave Burnham [burnham@uchicago.edu] for the password.

Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Your coordinators,

Katerina Korola and Dave Burnham

 


Cinema’s Motion Forms challenges the common assumption that the photographic moving image automatically reproduces the natural perception of motion. This assumption undergirds many basic ideas throughout film theory, from claims about the inherent realism of the cinematic image to analogies between the moving camera and human locomotion. Against this, I argue that the movement of the image produces its own logics of experience, which become manifest in particular structures of movement unique to the inscription of motion. By describing and analyzing these structures, what I call cinema’s motion forms, I am able not only to better understand the aesthetic possibilities of cinematic motion but also to rework central debates in film theory. Each chapter shows how a film theoretical assumption depends on a restricted understanding of cinematic motion, and how paying attention to a particular form of motion can produce new theoretical models.

 

Jordan Schonig is a sixth-year PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. His dissertation, Cinema’s Motion Forms: Inscribed Motion and the Problems of Film Theory, rethinks central debates in film theory by examining the phenomenology of cinematic motion. He is broadly interested in the intersections between philosophical aesthetics and film theory, phenomenological approaches to film studies, and genealogies of modernism in film and the other arts.

May 5, 2017 – Tien-Tien Jong

Please join us on Friday, May 5th at 10:30AM in Cobb 311 for the Mass Culture Workshop’s next Spring Quarter meeting. This time, we welcome Tien-Tien Jong, PhD Student in Cinema and Media Studies. Tien-Tien will be presenting a a paper entitled “Missing Pictures, Looks of Silence: Trauma as Child’s Play in The Act of Killing and The Missing Picture.”

Tien-Tien’s paper is available for download here.

Please email either Katerina Korola [katerinakorola@uchicago.edu] or Dave Burnham [burnham@uchicago.edu] for the password.

Refreshments will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Your coordinators,

Katerina Korola and Dave Burnham

_________________________________________________________________________________

Missing Pictures, Looks of Silence: Trauma as Child’s Play in The Act of Killing and The Missing Picture

What is the minimal amount of figuration that is required for viewer identification and empathy in documentary films? What representational strategies are available to filmmakers for capturing scenes of intense suffering—those categories of experience which lie outside of what is representable by a camera or artist? At their most visceral and jarringly “documentary” level, trauma narratives make an invocation upon the spectator to become a witness. Building on Ariella Azoulay’s work on photography, which argues that photographs function as not only evidence, but also an object which obligates its viewer, I will be looking at the rhetorical and representational strategies used by Rithy Panh and Joshua Oppenheimer to document the traumatic past.
In recounting his experiences in a Khmer Rouge re-education camp in The Missing Picture (2013), Panh constructs dioramas of a world with soulful clay figurines, but curiously unpopulated by living survivors. In Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (2012), willfully unrepentant killers boastfully re-enact their crimes in Hollywood-inspired stagings. Rather than the realist mode associated with documentary filmmaking, these films use non-traditional forms of representation to explore questions of how to create images of violence and suffering through an interest in participants repeating and working-through their stories, and the different ways in which subjects come to narrativize the traumatic events that have defined their lives. Instead of composing an authoritative narrative about historical events, both filmmakers work with fragments of representation and testimony, diverting our attention to what is happening outside of the frame, as if refusing to fix the traumatic events of the historical past in a single image or narrative. Through close sequence analyses, I will show how Panh and Oppenheimer use “missing pictures” and moments of silence and stillness in these films to draw our attention to what is missing from the historical archive, and what cannot be expressed to the viewer who was never there.

My analysis will conclude that Panh and Oppenheimer’s unconventional methods and materials include an implicit critique of archival footage and photography, the traditional sources relied upon by historical documentaries. In doing so, I argue that both filmmakers stage challenges to the ethics of representation and abstractions of violence.

Tien-Tien Jong is a PhD student in the Department of Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She holds a BA in Film & Media Studies from Dartmouth College, where she wrote a thesis entitled “This Waking Dream We Call Human Life: Ballet, Opera and the Unconscious in Musical Film.” Her research interests include melodrama, dance in film, automatons, children’s media, and representations of trauma.