Leeds Art Gallery, 2-5 December 2010.
Conference convenor: Professor Lúcia Nagib, University of Leeds
Professor Dudley Andrew, Yale University
Professor Griselda Pollock, University of Leeds
Professor Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor University of Paris 8 (tbc)
Professor James Schamus, Focus Features/Columbia University (tbc)
Professor Robert Stam, New York University
Dr Jonathan Wood, Henry Moore Institute
This conference is organised by the Mixed Cinema Network, an international body devoted to the study of cinema as an interdisciplinary and intercultural subject area. The title of the network, as much as that of the conference, draws on André Bazin’s famous article, ‘Pour un cinéma impur: défense de l’adaptation’. This has been translated into English simply as ‘In Defense of Mixed Cinema’, probably to avoid any uncomfortable sexual or racial resonances of the word ‘impure’. This conference goes back to Bazin’s original title precisely for its defence of impurity, which refers, on the one hand, to cinema’s interbreeding with other arts and, on the other, to its ability to convey and promote cultural diversity. Cinema has been widely acknowledged as a meeting point of all other arts. Joseph Anderson, commenting on the ‘commingling media’ which participated in the genesis of Japanese cinema, reminds us of an old Buddhist saying, according to which ‘all arts are one in essence’. Bazin even prophesied that the critic of the year 2050 would find ‘not a novel out of which a play and a film had been “made,” but rather a single work reflected through three art forms, an artistic pyramid with three sides, all equal in the eyes of the critic’. Since poststructuralism, ideas of purity, essence and origin have come under suspicion, leading, in our day, to favourable approaches to ‘hybridisation’, ‘transnationalism’, ‘multiculturalism’ and crossfertilisations of all sorts. One could however ask whether cinema’s multidisciplinarity automatically entails cultural hybridity. Stam offers an affirmative answer to this question, by ascribing a ‘multicultural nature’ to artistic intertextuality. More importantly, he defends intertextual approaches to cinema as a means to ‘desegregate’ and ‘transnationalise’ criticism itself. The aim of this conference is to combine cinema’s interdisciplinary and intercultural aspects so as to contribute to the deprovincialisation of criticism and bridge the divide between aesthetic and cultural studies. It will necessarily contemplate intermedia translations, including literary and theatrical adaptations. But it will reach beyond this, by locating and analysing the ways in which multiple media share strategic narrative and aesthetic devices which can only be properly understood if their cultural determinants are taken into account. Film and philosophy, a growing subject in film studies, will also be central to the focus of the conference, not least because one of the most influential philosophers of our time, Gilles Deleuze, devoted two volumes to the cinema which have changed the ways in which film theory is conceived today. Many studies have been devoted to cinema’s interface with individual art forms, such as literature, photography, music and painting. However, never before has this interdiciplinarity been addressed as a single phenomenon, inherent to cinema’s very nature and intercultural by definition. Here lies the originality of this event and its potential for great impact on the ways film is researched and taught worldwide.