15th SERCIA Conference, at the Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon

Wednesday September 8 to Friday September 10, 2010


Memory in/of English-Speaking Cinema

For some years, the idea of cinema as a carrier of memory has interested film specialists. How does cinema work to create and express individual and collective memory? What are its various strategies in making spectators believe in such memories? Recent works dealing with the crucial link between memory and cinema include books by Pam Cook, Annette Kuhn and Marcia Landy.
From the time of its first appearance, cinema has acted as the carrier of a lived tradition it has perpetuated through more and more sophisticated techniques. In Britain, early cinematographers such as Mitchell and Kenyon gave spectators a view of the rituals and traditions of their world – their films now survive to remember a way of life that has long ago disappeared. The same could be said of early films shot in Los Angeles and its surroundings in the 1910s and 20s. 
The cinema has also played a crucial role in the construction of shared cultures. The memories it creates nourish the imagination of spectators, encouraging the development of a common network of references and representations to create an almost-universal language.
Some of the techniques developed or used by cinema, including the flash-back, voice-off and the employment of music, have been of particular importance in encouraging its ability to prompt or to simulate memories, whether used in war or gangster films, film noir or musicals.
Papers are invited on any aspect of the link between cinema and memory. They may be related to one or more of the following suggestions, but the suggestions themselves are by no means intended to be exclusive. Other ideas, proposals and suggestions will be considered as well.
Cinema as the creator/reflector of immediate memories reflecting time and place (early Charlie Chaplin; American musical comedies of the 1930s; the New York of Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese; the work of Mira Nair)
Cinema as reporter/historian/archivist/opponent of forgetfulness (the films of D. W. Griffith, Stanley Kubrick, and Steven Spielberg; war films; gangster films; westerns; documentaries; bio-pics)
Cinema as story-teller (Disney and the fairy-story, films noirs, the world of Tim Burton)
Cinema as therapy (Terence Davies, John Boorman, Woody Allen)
Memory revisited/reworked (remakes, the films of Quentin Tarantino)
Memory suppressed or repressed (François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451; John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate; Deepa Mehta’s Earth)
Fabricated memory (science fiction cinema: James Cameron, Ridley Scott)
Memory about memory (the “American” films of Sergio Leone)
Cinema’s own memory/Cinema’s self-reflexive memory: for example, Martin Scorsese and the “memory” of American cinema
The manufacture of mythic characters (the cowboy, the gangster, the femme fatale)
Constructing a “usable” past (British Second World War films); films dealing with horrific events (the Holocaust, genocide in Africa or Eastern Europe)
Perpetuating memory (new technologies mobilised in the creation of memory, e.g. remastered films or rehabilitated film-makers, such as the cinema of John Cassavetes by Gérard Depardieu, Hitchcock by Truffaut)
The techniques used by cinema to promote or create memory
Memory of cinema-going as a social experience (how spectators recalled their own involvement in and engagement with the cinema)

Paper proposals (250/300 words) including a brief biography/cv should be sent as an attached document in Word or Rich Text Format no later than Friday 5th February 2010 to both conference organisers: Zeenat Saleh et Melvyn Stokes(president of SERCIA)

Pam Cook, Screening the Past: Memory and Nostalgia in Cinema (2005), 
Annette Kuhn, An Everyday Magic: Cinema and Cultural Memory (2002) 
Marcia Landy, ed., The Historical Film: History and Meaning in Media (2000)