17th SERCIA conference
Wednesday September 5 to Friday September 7, 2012
Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France

Cinema of Intimacy and/or the Intimacy of Cinema in English-Speaking Film

The 17th annual SERCIA conference will be held at the Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France, from Wednesday September 5 to Friday September 7, 2012. It is organized by the Centre Interlangues (EA 4182). Keynote speakers will be Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam) and Marc Vernet (Université Paris 7 – Denis Diderot).


Call for Papers


Unlike literary studies, film studies have rarely focused directly on intimacy as such, as the bibliography included below suggests, and English-speaking cinema might itself seem an unlikely candidate for this topic. Most film scholars and critics have tackled the question indirectly, by studying, for instance, the representation of the family or specific genres such as the biopic in which private lives occupy center stage. And yet as a photographic and aural medium that enables us to see and hear the bodies of actors, cinema is very much based on intimacy, although perhaps intimacy of a different nature from the kind literary scholars examine when studying letters and diaries as expressions of a human subject’s inner life. Clearly, what is at stake in the question of intimacy in cinema is the relationship between outside and inside, the outer and the inner life, the body and the self, the private and the public. This concerns not only the medium itself, but the industry as a whole. With its star system and movie tie-ins, including everything from Marilyn Monroe biographies to Luke Skywalker pyjamas, cinema undoubtedly occupies an intimate place in people’s lives, although, television, as it is positioned at the heart of domestic life, might arguably appear a more intimate medium.

The 17th SERCIA conference warmly invites film scholars to tackle the subject of intimacy from various angles and through different approaches, be they aesthetic, cultural, historical or economic. Proposals should deal either with English-speaking cinema or films dealing with English-speaking countries. Comparisons with non-English-speaking films are, however, welcome, as well as proposals that mean to assess differences between films and TV series.

List of possible topics (other suggestions will, of course, be considered):

• historical, sociological, etc. approaches to the representation of the family, the couple, the inner life, the body;

• the question of censorship: how censorship or self-regulation has influenced screen representations of intimacy;

• the treatment of confession, therapy, letter- and diary-writing; the process of adapting the epistolary form to moving images;

• film genre studies: the biopic, the family melodrama, (mock-)documentaries, naturalist films; what Linda Williams calls “body genres,” e.g. melodrama, horror and pornography;

• questions of form and aesthetics: how can inner life be expressed? The use of the close-up or voice-overs; acting methods; cinéma vérité; visual effects; music; diegetic cameras; digital technology;

• intimacy in foreign English-speaking films versus the dominant Hollywood model;

• star studies: the intimacy of stars; biographies, diaries, correspondence; the use of their star-image in film;

• questions of spectatorship, reception and fan studies: how do viewers and/or fans “use” the films and/or stars they love?

• market studies: how have studios marketed the intimate lives of stars? how have they sought to advertise products for use in the daily lives of audiences?

Deadline: March 31, 2012. Send abstracts (≈ 300 words) in English or French to David Roche, Isabelle Schmitt and Melvyn Stokes.

Selected bibliography

Bahuaud, Myriam. Dessin animé, jouet des produits dérivés. Paris: l’Harmattan, 2003.

Barbas, Samantha. Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity. New York: Saint Martin’s Press, 2002.

Bayon, Estelle. Le Cinéma obscène. Paris : L’Harmattan, 2007.

Bingham, Dennis. Whose Lives Are They Anyway? The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2010.

Chion, Michel. La Voix au cinéma. Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma, 1984.

---. La Musique au cinéma. Paris: Fayard, 1995.

Clover, Carol. J. Men, Women and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1992.

Dyer, Richard. Stars. London: BFI, 1998 [1979].

Fuller, Kathryn H. At the Picture Show: Small-Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture. Charlottesville, VA: U of Virginia P, 2001.

Hardwood, Sarah, ed. Family Fictions: Representations of the Family in 1980s Hollywood Cinema. London: Macmillan Press, 1997.

Hills, Matt. Fan Cultures. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

Jacobs, Jason. The Intimate Screen: Early British Television Drama. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000.

Kooijman, Jaap and Patricia Pisters and Wanda Strauven, eds. Mind the Screen: Media Concepts According to Thomas Elsaesser. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2008.

Lewis, Lisa A. The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

MacDougall, David. The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2005.

Palmer, Tim. Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2011.

Peacock, Steven. Hollywood and Intimacy: Style, Moments, Magnificence. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Rueschmann, Eva. Sisters on Screen: Siblings in Contemporary Cinema. Philadelphia, PA: Temple UP, 2000.

Ruoff, Jeffrey Kevin. An American Family: A Televised Life. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001.

Schantz, Ned. Gossip, Letters, Phones: The Scandal of Female Networks in Film and Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

Staiger, Janet. Perverse Spectators: The Practices of Film Reception. New York and London: New York UP, 2000.

Strasberg, Lee. The Lee Strasberg Notes. Ed. Lola Cohen. London and New York: Routledge, 2010.

Vernet, Marc. Figures de l’absence : De l’invisible au cinéma. Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma – Éditions de l’Étoile, 1998.

Williams, Linda. Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the “Frenzy of the Visible.” Berkeley and L.A.: U of California P, 1999 [1989].