March 3rd, 2017 – Pedro Noel Doreste

Please join us on Friday, March 3rd at 10AM in Cobb 311 for our final Winter Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This time, we welcome Pedro Noel Doreste, PhD Student in Cinema and Media Studies. Pedro will be presenting an article draft titled “Revolutionary Exceptions: Reception of The Godfather Films in Cuba.

Pedro’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

_________________________________________________________________________________

“Revolutionary Exceptions: Reception of The Godfather Films in Cuba”

The paper revisits the conditions under which Cuba illicitly acquired and widely exhibited Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather I and later II in the 1970s. After having previously banned American media in the years directly following the Revolution, the Cuban Film Institute surprisingly saw fit to exhibit a Hollywood picture under the constraints of the blockade and at the height of the Cold War in the mid-1970s. To justify breaking with the self-imposed boycott of contemporary Hollywood films—then considered anti-intellectual in nature and incompatible with revolutionary ideals—Cuban cultural workers endeavored to construct a unified hermeneutics among their readers that understood the Mafia as a singularly American problem and the Godfather films as faithful representations of this phenomenon. Blurring the boundaries between private enterprise, organized crime, and the U.S. government, the films would become two of the most popular ever to be screened in the island. The reception of The Godfather films indicates that piracy would also become a point of pride and willful misinterpretation a manner of active resistance to cultural imperialism. The purpose of this study is to identify the sites of exchange, discourse, or even mutual infiltration by two competing, ideologically incompatible cultures, and speculate further as to the role of criticism in determining why certain pieces of media thrive where they do not belong.

February 17th, 2017 – Gary Kafer

Please join us on Friday, February 17th at 10AM in Cobb 311 for our fourth Winter Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This time, we welcome Gary Kafer, PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies. Gary will be presenting an article in progress titled “Believing is Being: Selfies, Referentiality, and the Politics of Belief in Amalia Ulman’s Instagram.”

Gary’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

_________________________________________________________________________________

“Believing is Being: Selfies, Referentiality, and the Politics of Belief in Amalia Ulman’s Instagram”

Over the course of five months, Ulman scripted a series of photos, videos, and text in her Instagram-based performance Excellences & Perfections (2014) to imagine a brief fictional life that she could enact on social media. In this project, Ulman charts her experiences as she moves to the city, enters romantic relationships, and travels abroad by channeling a range of mutable personality types that are reflected in platforms specific features and selfie practices. Rather than advancing an argument based on one’s ability to discern the fictional or factual elements of the media on her Instagram, this paper proposes understanding Ulman’s project through what will be termed a politics of belief. Here, Ulman’s selfies become referential to the artist not only because of the production or aesthetic design of the image, but also through a networked participation of beliefs about the image which cite particular identities onto Ulman’s body. What emerges from this approach is an understanding of the selfie not as a stable image or representation, but as a social space in which the coalescence of beliefs through normative socio-techno practices in the form of comments, likes, and shares determine the ways in which the selfie can be said to be referential to a specific person. Importantly, while Ulman’s project deploys explicitly fictional modes of selfie production, such concerns pertain more broadly to a range of cultural attitudes in our post-truth moment, in which what is regarded as real or truthful depends appeals to our emotions, experiences, and beliefs instead of empirical facts.

Gary Kafer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in Visual Studies and Cinema Studies, as well as a M.A. from the Masters of Arts Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. His research interests include histories and practices of surveillance, aesthetics of digital media and algorithms, queer theory and cinema, and visual neuroscience and perception.

February 10th, 2017 – Robert Bird

Please join us on Friday, February 10th at 10AM in Cobb 311 for the third Winter Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This time, we welcome Dr. Robert Bird, Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the College. Robert Bird will be presenting a chapter from his book-in-progress on Soviet special effects in the 1930s, entitled “Framed Prospects, or Lenin v.s King Kong.”

Robert Bird’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

 

January 27th, Tom Gunning and Travis Preston – Fantômas: Revenge of the Image (A Preview)

Please join us on Friday, January 27th at 10AM in LOGAN 201 [Please note alternative location] for our second Winter Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This week we are delighted to welcome Tom Gunning, Professor of Cinema and Media Studies and Art History & Travis Preston, Dean of Theater at The California Institute of the Arts. Our guests this week are gracing us with a sneak preview of their collaborative theater project, “Fantômas: Revenge of the Image.”

Reading materials, courtesy of Tom Gunning, are entirely optional this week, but include a talk delivered on Fantômas and an outline of the project itself. As always, please do not distribute these without permission. The link is 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

 


Fantômas – Revenge of the Image: a Preview
Film historian Tom Gunning and theater director Travis Preston, Dean of Theater at The California Institute of the Arts, working through The Center for New Performance, have over the last five years been collaborating on a theatrical piece based on the figure of French serial literature and films, Fantômas, the phantom bandit and urban terrorist.

Scheduled to premiere this coming October at a theater festival in China, the work involves an experimental approach to the zone between theater and cinema, employing a mobile seating unit to create a transforming imagistic space. All the texts (primarily based in French symbolist and surrealist works) will be spoken by one voice, while a group of actors (including Mirjana Jokovic, known most prominently for her work in the films of Emir Kusturica) interact in and expanded field, mediated by a mobile view, framed through an aperture.  Themes of violence and terror explore the figure of Fantômas and the roots of urban terror from the French serial to the Master criminals of the Weimar era.

January 20, 2016 – Shannon Tarbell

Please join us on Friday, January 20th at 10AM in Cobb 311 for the our first Winter Quarter meeting of the Mass Culture Workshop. This time, we welcome Shannon Tarbell, PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies. Shannon will be presenting a chapter of her dissertation titled “Visual Conversation in Late Silent / Early Sound Film.”

Shannon’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

_________________________________________________________________________________

“Visual Conversation in Late Silent/Early Sound Film”

This paper, a draft of a dissertation chapter, considers two early masterpieces of synchronized sound, Sunrise (F.W. Murnau, 1927) and Lonesome (Paul Fejos, 1928) in order to show how each film presents key scenes of dialogue, or visual conversation, with special effects that reveal rather than conceal the ordinariness of these conversations. In both of the films studied in this chapter, the ordinary occurs not simply in the sense of telling a story about regular, common people, but precisely in moments of perceiving the ordinary as momentarily strange or extraordinary. The films are therefore revelatory of the ordinary as Stanley Cavell describes it.

 

Shannon Tarbell is a PhD candidate in the department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She holds an M.A. in Film and Media Studies from Emory University. Her dissertation, “Small Talk: Film Dialogue and the Ordinary,” explores film dialogue’s integral yet often critically and theoretically neglected place in narrative cinema as a function of its ordinariness.