Cinema and Subjectivization: Moving Images and the Production of History

Cinema is not only the receptacle and bearer of 20th Century history but also its meme, operating as a ubiquitous mode of subjectivization in the present. In its decline the cinema, the founding figure of moving images, persists as the model and cipher for contemporary culture. As medium, aesthetic, site, and archive, cinema is the template with which the long twentieth century is reconciled to the new millennium. Simultaneously record of events and mode of thought, cinema is the primer for contemporary subjects and the world they inhabit.

At least since Guy Debord, filmmakers have attempted to grapple with this intertwining of History (writ large), film history, and the formation of subjectivity. After Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du cinéma is perhaps the most ambitious and well-known of such projects. There Godard proclaims that it is video that enables his histoire(s); yet it is the cinematic imagination that conditions new moving image technologies and urges (demands, even) these technologies reflect on their own history. Along with Debord and Godard, the films of Chris Marker, Harun Farocki, and Gustav Deutsch (among many others), suggest that moving images not only bear witness to history, they also form a matrix for the construction of actors and events. In such films cinema folds back on itself to comment on the world it has generated.

Given this concatenation of history, cinema, and subjectivity, this panel will explore the following types of questions:

--What modes of subjectivity are created through the reproduction of the history of the 20th C. in the present?

--How can we engage the aesthetics and politics of the visual archive as a form of history?

--What is the relation between the historical event and its repetition through images?

--What is the role of institutions, both public and private, in propagating the history of moving images?

--How does the cinematic imagination embody, produce, capture and deploy new forms of capital?

--What formal strategies typify films that engage the nexus of cinema and history?

--What is the role of cinema in the emergence of new media within formal, social, and financial economies?


If interested, send a short abstract to by Aug. 14th.

Matthew Stoddard
Dept. of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature
University of Minnesota


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