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Writing the Conference Proposal: A Workshop Scott Curtis Instructions: Here are eight one-page conference proposals

. They are actual proposals submitted for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference. The names have been redacted. They each received two scores from the pair of program committee members in charge of this area (American film and culture). SCMS scores its proposals on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best. Read each proposal and score it yourself, using this scale, and write down what you think are the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. During the workshop, we will discuss common errors in proposal writing and we will look over these proposals in detail.

(Chicago: University of Illinois Press. epitomized in Griffith’s “discovery” of the close-up. ESSAYS ON OTHERNESS. While it was heuristically necessary to make a hard distinction between the cinema of attractions and narrative cinema. (New York.underground”. THE CHEAT (DeMille. 2001). NY: Routledge. Tom. Singer. the attractions mode functioned like a playful fort/ da game. the dialectic nature of their relationship (implicitly reflected in the prior statements). to be resolved in the course of the story’s development. This implied an evolving moral stance in relation to the potentially dangerous sensational aesthetics of the cinema of attractions: a melodramatic discourse of seduction (and especially of ‘the youth’) begins as the cinema of attractions are brought within the evolving cultural narrative of mass culture. “‘Now You See It. in PLAYING THE RACE CARD: MELODRAMAS OF BLACK AND WHITE FROM UNCLE TOM TO O. that the one gets incorporated and translated into the other. I explore the meaning of this shift from attraction to seduction with theoretical reference to the work Jean Laplanche. GRIFFITH AND THE ORIGINS OF AMERICAN NARRATIVE FILM. they simply find their place within it”. needs to be explored further. assimilating this unprecedented. 2001). SIMPSON.W. Jean. EARLY CINEMA: SPACE. new form of aesthetic experience. and not just the novel act captured. Bibliography Gunning. 2004). The melodramatic ‘translation’ of the attraction can be understood as a symptom of the emergence of a new invasive film aesthetic: the seduction of narrative cinema. “[they] go. potentially traumatic. 10-44. While this suggests an aesthetic dialectic of repression/ sublation at work within the historical development of film language and reception. 56-62. 1991). attempting to negotiate. Williams. Gunning. What changes with the more melodramatic aesthetic of narrative cinema is that the central attraction becomes the passions of the other. (New York: Columbia University Press. the exhibitionist fascination with the cinematic “burst of presence” that attractions offered seems to be replaced by a narrative game of enigma and suspense. but the address of the other as a passionate spectacle. MELODRAMA AND MODERNITY: EARLY SENSATIONAL CINEMA AND ITS CONTEXTS. (New York: Routledge. Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde” in Thomas Elsaesser and Adam Barker (eds). master and then fetishize the startling possibilities of film display..From Attraction(s) to Seduction: The Dialectic of Early Film Aesthetics This paper takes as its starting point Tom Gunning’s statements regarding the subsumption of the attractions aesthetic mode into the spectatorial mode of narrative cinema: “[a]ttractions are not abolished by the classical paradigm. 41-50. and BROKEN BLOSSOMS (Griffith. With its aesthetics of astonishment. Linda. 1915). . the nature of the “attraction” mode’s insistence has perhaps not been addressed sufficiently. Now You Don’t’: The Temporality of the Cinema of Attractions”. 1919). (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1915).J. (London : BFI Publishing. Tom. THE SILENT CINEMA READER. Gunning. What is indexed is no longer simply the pure present of the cinematic instant. “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film. 1990).. “The American Melodramatic Mode”. in Lee Grieveson and Peter Kramer (eds).FRAME. turning my attention to three exemplary cases from the teens: A FOOL THERE WAS (Powell. With the narrative cinema of the 1910s. Laplanche. D. 1999).NARRATIVE. Ben.

AND SEXUALITY. 1988) Couvares. CENSORSHIP. Francis G. Hugh M.. were the first to encounter and comment on the films that would become legal test cases.. "Talk With a Movie Censor" (THE SATURDAY REVIEW November 22. 1952) Guzman. SHARED PLEASURES: A HISTORY OF MOVIE PRESENTATION IN THE UNITED STATES (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 1966) Gomery.. Hollis. who. 1909-1925 (London: Routledge. By looking at media responses to state censorship in the wake of the 1952 Miracle decision. Douglas. The purpose of this paper is to examine the difficulties that the review board faced as they attempted to mediate community standards of morality and turbulent legal precedents with their own notions of film as art and as commerce. 2005) Kuhn. “The Little Theatre Movement: The Institutionalization of the European Art Film in America” (FILM HISTORY 17. such as The Miracle and La Ronde. 19501965 This paper examines the policies and procedures of New York’s powerful and influential state censorship board from 1950 until its demise in 1965. As many film historians have articulated. Tony. While the important legal precedents and constitutional amendments during this period have received ample scholarly attention. and the constitutional rights of motion pictures. as well as the internal reports and memoranda of the MPD itself. this paper considers the conflicting discourses of film censorship in the 1950s. 1992) Alpert. CINEMA. censors were not necessarily always intent on curtailing art deemed dangerous or subversive. but also within the realms of narrative structure and the translation of dialogue. I pay particular attention to the Division’s director. What this paper proposes is an historical renegotiation of the state censor as a complex individual and employee of the state. I specifically examine review cases of foreign films in New York that posed particular problems. Bibliography Carmen. this period witnessed the New York Motion Picture Division’s most turbulent years as it became the unwitting locus of national debate concerning subjective standards of morality.2/3. who acted as the board’s spokesperson throughout this period and frequently articulated the difficulty facing the state censor. Dr. not just in standards of morality. MOVIES CENSORSHIP AND THE LAW (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Ira H. in many cases. Annette. Thus I hope to show how state censorship—in New York in particular—was shaped and dismantled as much by the subjective considerations of the censor’s themselves as it was by the shifting legal landscape of the 1950s. Flick. That is. ed. but were compelled to follow the ever-changing strictures of the law balanced with a desire to cultivate personal notions of what constituted art.New York’s Motion Picture Division and the Problem of Subjective Film Censorship. MOVIE CENSORSHIP AND AMERICAN CULTURE (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. relatively little attention has been paid to the workings of the Motion Picture Division and its reviewers. 1996) .

52-65. the studio both appealed to the rising interest in popular science and diverted attention from DESTINATION MOON's modest budget and unknown cast. reports from the trade papers. Bibliography United Artists Papers. I argue that DESTINATION MOON (1950) is one of the key films of the 1950s. Peter. . Denied access to first run theaters. THE FIFTIES: TRANSFORMING THE SCREEN. and archival documents such as press and promotional materials. an independent that directly challenged the majors by instituting its own distribution network. in that the major studios’ economic hegemony was seriously threatened for the first time in decades. In its efforts to provide a quality alternative to the classical A picture. Madison WI. 1950-1959. Eagle-Lion would eventually fail to establish itself as a new major. NJ: Prentice-Hall. By emphasizing the ways in which the film reflected cutting-edge scientific theories and technology. Unable to afford the elaborate production values and high-priced stars associated with the major films of the ‘50s. in William Johnson (ed. who saw a chance to seize a segment of the market from their powerful rivals.” VARIETY. Eagle-Lion substituted the novel themes and spectacular special effects of the burgeoning science fiction genre. 23 September 1950: 45. I support my argument in part with analyses of the film’s reception. Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. spectacle-driven blockbusters. Bernstein. Robert A. “ELC Aims to Give Top Competition to UA on Independent Production.” MOTION PICTURE HERALD. “MOON Has Phenomenal Promotion. Lev.” CINEMA JOURNAL 32:3 (1993). Heinlein.). This focus on verisimilitude was intended to give DESTINATION MOON a sophistication that distinguished it from the cheap exploitation usually associated with independent genre product. 28 February 1951: 5. DESTINATION MOON was a product of Eagle-Lion Studios. The combined impact of the postwar decline in attendance and the 1948 antitrust decision led the majors to drastically cut production. This move created exhibition opportunities for independent producers and distributors.“The Greatest Exploitation Special Ever”: DESTINATION MOON and Eagle-Lion Studios The early 1950s was a pivotal period in the history of Hollywood. (Berkeley: University of California Press. by the late 1970s the “exploitation A” would be the economic cornerstone of the industry. 2003). FOCUS ON THE SCIENCE FICTION FILM (Englewood Cliffs. but because it provided an influential aesthetic and economic alternative to the established norms of major studio A-level filmmaking. not only because it inaugurated that decade’s science fiction cycle. “Shooting DESTINATION MOON”. “Hollywood’s Semi-Independent Production. and DESTINATION MOON’s approach to science fiction filmmaking was largely supplanted by low-budget horror hybrids. However. in the form of today’s high-concept. Eagle-Lion Studios unwittingly generated a filmmaking model that would ensure the continued dominance of the majors. 1972). Matthew.

It is known for the rise of science fiction and teenpics. Dorothy." Cinema J 2000 (39. THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955). Hollywood of the 1950s is not known for its social problem films.’ THE RING (1952) to Columbia’s THE GARMENT JUNGLE (1957) to Stanley Kramer’s PRESSURE POINT (1962)—took on as a central task the presentation of overt messages about contemporary social issues. London: Routledge. Inc. dressed in the conventions of science fiction or the western. THE DEFIANT ONES (1958). If social criticism made its way into Hollywood films. Genre and Hollywood. Jones. 1956. 2003. If McCarthyism did not kill the social problem film. How many social problem films were made and by whom? How did the trade press categorize and sub-categorize these films? What strategies motivated the production of social problem films at a range of different budget levels— from the A’s and nervous A’s to the cheapies and exploitation product? Bibliography Cagle. Neale. Historical Foundations of the Social Problem Film. These historians tend to focus on canonical titles. 1945-1967. Fund for the Republic. "'We Do Not Ask You to Condone This': How the Blacklist Saved Hollywood. for example. 196-233. 2005. Steve. Jon." Report on Blacklisting. a period during which socially conscious filmmaking nearly disappeared. Yet. Diss. as some historians point out. 2000.2): 3-30. I WANT TO LIVE! (1958). and TV. cites some of the best known and most successful social problem films of the decade: RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 (1954). Motion Picture Herald. According to this account. but also of 1950s Hollywood and of the effects of the HUAC hearings and the blacklist on film production. I propose to begin such an examination. I will assess the place of the social problem film within the Hollywood studio system. for the business challenges posed by divorcement. "Communism and the Movies: A Study of Film Content. then what was the state of the genre during the 1950s? Drawing primarily on the film industry trade press. and Variety. Urbana: U of Illinois P. Steve Neale. for Marilyn Monroe and Jerry Lewis. and Steven Englund. Lewis. biblical epics and luscious melodramas. suburbanization. A look at trade and popular press reviews during this period suggests that many movies. . An examination of these films would contribute to a fuller understanding not only of the history of the social problem film. The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community. Larry. Quite the opposite: many film historians describe the 1950s as an era of political timidity. Paul Christopher. 1950-1965. Volume I: Movies. Film Daily. But the canonical examples may not represent the cycle as a whole. Ed. Brown U. 1930-60. it did so only incognito. movie makers in the age of McCarthyism retreated from overtly social or political subjects and embraced pure entertainment. made by a wide variety of producers at all different budget levels—from King Bros.. John Cogley.Did McCarthyism Kill the Social Problem Film? Hollywood of the 1950s is famous for wide screens and drive-ins. Ceplair. ON THE WATERFRONT (1954). Hollywood continued to make social problem films throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

Roland. W. 2001. 1957. The Japan/America Flm Wars: WWII Propaganda and Its Cultural Contexts. Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers. 2002. eds. Fukushima. New York: Hill and Wang. Bibliography Barthes. During the 1940’s. Chur. Annette Lavers. one that has gained and lost popularity with the ebb and flow of cultural interest.The Flag Still Waves Over Us: Propaganda and the Wartime Musical The Hollywood musical is known as a distinctly American genre. Radio goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda During World War II. and Yukio. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Berkeley: University Of California Press. the plots and musical numbers in Universal’s 1942 musical Buck Privates and Warner Brothers’ 1942 musical Yankee Doodle Dandy will be textually analyzed to support this argument. 1994. Feuer. Abe. Jane. Anthony. but instead is speaking against the current wartime situation and propagating an ideology of tolerance and pacifism. the musical was a platform of patriotic cant through the production of a sub-genre of films that were a part of the Office of War Information’s own propaganda campaign. Specifically. Gerd. a discursive formation into which these musicals are situated. The discussion will then turn to the contemporary resurgence of the musical that is acting still under the formation of propaganda. Nornes. “An Exotic Enemy: Anti-Japanese Musical Propaganda in World War II Hollywood. This essay explores how these films fit into that discursive formation by analyzing the myths (through the lens of Barthes) associated with the genre’s subtext and proAmerican stance.2 (2001): 303-357. Horten.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 54. Trans. 1993. . The Hollywood Musical. Sheppard. Mythologies.

Doherty. two of whom were killed in action and most of the rest wounded. to a new standard of jarring realism that foregrounds the shakes and bumps suffered by the camera in a combat zone. Renov. television. . Bill. is known as one of the few WWII documentaries with obvious reenactments and extensive special effects. 1997.Codifying the Contingent: Realism and the Nonfiction Films of World War II With images of the Iraq War flooding our film. Rather than opposing DECEMBER 7TH and SAN PIETRO. John Huston’s grim battle report SAN PIETRO consists almost exclusively of footage from 14 combat cameramen. but an investigation of how we come to know war—how it is narrativized. DECEMBER 7TH and SAN PIETRO stand at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their status as film evidence. the film re-staged the event with soldier-actors and exploding models of miniature battleships floating in backlot water tanks. Nichols. this film stands as the apotheosis of a movement within codes of realism: from a classical Hollywood style reliant on the invisibility of the camera. Bibliography Bordwell. paradoxically. my paper will examine how films like DECEMBER 7TH (1943) and THE BATTLE OF SAN PIETRO (1945) integrate special effects. Bruzzi. The American WWII documentaries that will be the focus of this presentation embody a tension between the “reality” supposedly captured in combat footage and the ideological machinations of propaganda. and computer screens. Projections of War: Hollywood. that came to signify the accidental or contingent.: Indiana University Press. it is more important than ever to reexamine the history of media representations of war. Stella. For some critics. if not objectively capture. New York: Verso. 1993. reenactments. Paul. 2nd ed. On the other hand. Cambridge. 1989. Bloomington. my presentation will demonstrate how both films worked to establish conventions. P. and World War II. 1991. 2006. At stake is not just a history of cinematic style. Virilio.: Harvard University Press. such as the shaky camera. The first film. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge. With little extant footage of the Pearl Harbor attack to work with. David. and “raw” documentary footage using editing techniques that have influenced the aesthetics of film combat ever since. Mass. sought to codify the contingent. Long before the digital age put the indexicality of the cinematic image into crisis. Michael. New York: Columbia University Press. Thomas. On the History of Film Style. ed. American Culture. War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception. Although it too is guilty of staging and other subtle manipulations. Theorizing Documentary. Ind. but I will argue that they both helped to establish a new aesthetics of realism that. 1999. To explore this contradiction. made by Gregg Toland and John Ford. New York: Routledge. New Documentary. the WWII documentary played a crucial role in innovating new ways to signify. visualized. Camiler. and made meaningful. Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. reality. Trans. even when such events were staged or manufactured on a studio set.

Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP. that film uses technology. ANTI-OEDIPUS: CAPITALISM AND SCHIZOPHRENIA. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. Teresa.Science Fictions of the Present: The Fragmented Subject and the Utopianism of Film in Shane Carruth’s PRIMER Science fiction has always functioned as a philosophical genre through its ability to intervene in theoretical discourses by pushing concepts to their logical extremes. 2005. NH: Wesleyan UP and UP of New England. CRITICAL THEORY AND SCIENCE FICTION. Deleuze. Gilles and Felix Guattari. Lane. AND FICTION. Jameson. the film’s structure reproduces this fragmentation through its use of flashbacks. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. in my paper. and whether the film argues that some sense of unity can be achieved in the face of this fragmentation. 1989. Freedman. 1992. FILM. Fredric. Thus. TECHNOLOGIES OF GENDER: ESSAYS ON THEORY. By multiplying versions of the characters and by devaluing various ethical and moral systems through their actions. but certain directors have broken with such conventions and created what I shall term “science fictions of the present. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP. 1987. While the story literally fragments the characters. and reality. and Helen R. Hanover. which uses starkly realistic cinematography to create an SF film that is set in the present and that features no special effects or elaborate sets. London and New York: Verso. Gilles. 1983. They eventually multiply timelines and versions of themselves to the point where it becomes impossible to tell if we are watching the original versions of the characters or their doubles. narrative. the question PRIMER poses to us is whether narrativization can provide this lost sense of unity or whether chaos and fragmentation will ultimately prevail. . The main characters construct a machine that allows them to travel back into the recent past where they attempt to program the present according to their specifications. THE GEOPOLITICAL AESTHETIC: CINEMA AND SPACE IN THE WORLD SYSTEM. experience. blackouts. Robert Hurley. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. 1985. SF films achieve such interventions through futuristic settings or alien civilizations. how the film depicts the subject’s struggle with his/her fragmented existence. 1972.” which deal with traditional SF concerns but do so via a contemporary setting. thus leaving the subject in a confused web of fragments like those that compose the film’s structure. CINEMA 2: THE TIME IMAGE. ARCHAEOLOGIES OF THE FUTURE: THE DESIRE CALLED UTOPIA AND OTHER SCIENCE FICTIONS. Mark Seem. I will examine how PRIMER allows us to conceive of film as a science fiction of the present. Bibliography De Lauretis. the film interrogates the poststructuralist concept of the fragmented subject by pushing the concept to its extreme in order to examine whether it is livable or whether the postmodern subject must seek out some new unifying principle. and scene repetition. 2000. and mise-en-scène as means of forcing a utopian unity (fiction) upon the fundamentally fragmented nature of time. Deleuze. Carl. Fredric. Trans. Ultimately. Jameson. thus giving it the aura of a documentary about inventors. This filmic fragmentation also highlights how films themselves function as science fictions of the present. that is. One example of this trend is Shane Carruth’s recent indie film PRIMER (2004). Generally. Trans.

Fredric. . Friedman. POWER MISSES: ESSAYS ACROSS (UN)POPULAR CULTURE. DOGTOWN: THE LEGEND OF THE Z-BOYS. these videos – as well as Peralta’s sophisticated ad campaign – also participated in the creation and dissemination of a distinct American subculture. the conformity. John Berger. and opposed to. Bibliography James. James. Gelder. 2002). John. and Peralta’s own appropriation of revolutionary concepts/imagery for the purpose of marketing. as well as the re-packaging of skateboarding-oriented studio films from the 80s as “collectors edition” DVDs. (New York: Routledge. 1991). Glen E. representing the skater lifestyle as one detached from. how do we understand the tensions that exist between the antiassimilationist and anti-corporate content grounding these ads/videos and their function as marketing tools. Interestingly. Ken. Nonetheless. the film industry has seen the production of many new projects centered on this history. Though primarily conceived as a venue for publicizing the talent of the Bones Brigade skateboarders. this paper will argue that the competing functions of the Bones Brigade videos (publicity/ideology) resulted in a unique hybridization of documentary and narrative genres. (Burning Flags Press. this new nostalgia for early skate culture has also led Peralta (co-owner of Powell-Peralta skateboards) to re-release his legendary series of BONES BRIGADE skateboard videos from the 80s. it will be argued that the absorption of these subversive qualities in mainstream media was prefigured by certain limitations in the ideology of skate culture. 2007). WAYS OF SEEING. (New York: Verso. Hebdige. OR THE CULTURAL LOGIC OF LATE CAPITALISM. Since 2001.R. POSTMODERNISM. Drawing on the work of scholars like Dick Hebdige. 1996). and conservatism of 1980s corporate America. But how are we to reconcile the oppositional stance presented in these ads/videos with the utter “mainstreamification” of skate culture today? Moreover. 1992). standardization. SUBCULTURES: CULTURAL HISTORIES AND SOCIAL PRACTICE. layered with subversive elements of formal experimentation and cultural critique.“The differences you see are the differences between the future and the past”: Bones Brigade Skateboard Videos and American Subculture With the recent popularity of Stacy Peralta’s skateboarding documentary DOGTOWN AND ZBOYS (2001). Dick. and C. (Durham: Duke Univ. and David E. (New York: Routledge. which played an integral role in establishing the skate video industry. Press. Stecyk III. there has been an expanse of cultural interest in the many stylistic innovations and industrial reconfigurations in the history of skateboarding. provide new potential for the still-resonant matter of theorizing the relationship between alternative film/video practice and subcultural formations. Berger. Jameson. and the subversive elements they still contain. 1988). SUBCULTURE: THE MEANING OF STYLE. this paper will propose that the limitations these ads/videos demonstrate. David E. (London: Penguin. not to mention Peralta’s own role in popularizing skateboarding through various mainstream Hollywood projects? Seeking to examine these questions.