Adam Plummer presents ‘Psychoanalysis and popular British cinema: The British trauma film’

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This paper focuses on how popular British cinema in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War comes to be influenced and transformed by the psychoanalytic discourses that circulate at this time.

Using the example of the Ealing Studios production Dead of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, 1945), I consider how certain elements of British cinema come to display distinctive forms of representation and narration. I look particularly at how this film seems preoccupied with the distressed internal object worlds of its characters, with the blurring of lines between objectivity and subjectivity and between reality and fantasy, and with the precariousness of human existence.

Thursday 29 September, 5:15 pm. ArtsOne, Hitchcock Theatre (G19).

Refreshments to follow.

ALL WELCOME

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Maren Thom presents ‘The Transgressive Nature of Chris Morris’ Satire in the post-political’

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Wednesday 30th March, 5:15pm. Arts One, Room G34.

This paper addresses the way comedy works as a method to transgress what Slavoj Žižek describes as the post-political; that is the current state of denial of alternatives within global politics and a directionlessness within cultural theory, which set in after the apparent defeat of the possibility of a radical alternative to capitalism.

For comedy to be truly transgressive Marcus Pound says it requires ‘a politics of the impossible’: By highlighting a world of unreason, rather than condemning it outright, humour arises from the experience of this world of unreason. For this to happen, in Pound’s understanding, transgressive comedy has to approach its subject not on a material but on metaphysical level; not point out the inconsistencies of concrete claims of truth and expose them to ridicule, but to assume their universalist truth and revelling in the contradiction between their idealist form and materialists execution. Referring to the work on comedy by Alenka Zupančič, Pound says, the transgressive comic mode is not found, ‘in the usual materialist critique of idealism; but the very point at which the ideal appears directly as the material, and it is this paradox – this incongruity – which generates the truly subversive comic mode of comedy.’ In short, comedy has the ability to tap into the subtle questions of the human condition concerned with how it is rather than pointing out the way things are. This paper presumes that, by looking at the way Morris’ satire can be used as a way to transcend the stalemate of the post-political. Most of Morris’ comedy works in this fashion, in that his satire does not aim at exposing the materialist discrepancies of society, but accepts these incongruities and takes them as the basis to ridicule their very existence – what the audience is alienated from is not the absurdity of concrete claims but the fact that the mundane is also part of this very absurdity.

 

ALL WELCOME

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Victoria Grace Walden presents ‘Holocaust Animation: Textural Confrontations with a Difficult Past’

 

Holocaust animation

The Holocaust and animation may seem in tension with one another. The Holocaust was one of the most devastating events in Twentieth-Century European history, while animation is usually associated with childhood fun and fantasy. However, there are an increasing number of animations that confront the Holocaust. Surprisingly, very little has been written about these works. Considering the rhetoric about appropriate Holocaust representation, it seems peculiar that these animations have been mostly ignored by the academic community and yet the format has been adopted by several stakeholders in Holocaust commemoration and education such as the Anne Frank Trust, UK and Yad Vashem, Israel without debate (considering that the format seems so in tension with the subject matter).

There is more to films that confront the Holocaust than questions of appropriateness. The representational values that approaches concerned with this issue take as their foci, underplay the significance of medium specificity. In this presentation I will focus on the material specificity of animations that confront this difficult past. The Holocaust can be considered a difficult past in many ways: in relation to survivor trauma, familiar and affiliative postmemory and the integration of the Holocaust into national or ideological narratives. Adopting a phenomenological model, I claim that the presence of the animated body – its particular expression of intentionality – draws attention to specific issues related to these different scenarios. I will discuss a variety of animated works produced by a survivor, with survivors, contemporary younger generations and nations that might at first seem particularly distant from the Holocaust. In acknowledging the presence of the animated body, I argue that these Holocaust animations not only attempt to re-present this past in their diegeses, but also draw attention to specific difficulties related to confronting the Holocaust through their material engagements with this past.

5.15pm, Wednesday 16th December, Arts One G34, to be followed by Christmas drinks

ALL WELCOME

 

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Hollie Price presents ‘Disillusion and the Armchair: Furnishing the Living Room in Film Noir’

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Wednesday 21st October 2015, 5.15pm, Arts One G34

Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Campus

 

Please join us for the first session of PostProduction this academic year, in which Hollie Price will discuss her recent chapter published in Spaces of the Cinematic Home: Behind the Screen Door (Routledge 2015), followed by wine, snacks and socializing.

The paper explores the mise-en-scène of the living room in Hollywood film noir, in a period of transition from war to peace in the 1940s. Following the US declaration of war in 1941, icons of domestic comfort, including the hearth, the mantelpiece and the armchair, had inalterably shifted from their familial compositions and meanings. Fathers and husbands vacated their traditional positions in fireside armchairs to participate in the conflict, while women relinquished their roles catering for the family and arranging domestic furnishings in order to replace the male workforce. However, advertisements continued to feature living rooms, and particularly armchairs, as reassuringly recognizable symbols of comfortable dwelling and family stability. The home, these advertisements seemed to declare, could remain unchanged even in a changing world, and so could be readily reoccupied once the war was over. By the mid-1940s, Hollywood film noir highlighted the anxieties linked with the doomed domestic space for a generation of returning veterans and women workers, and its failure to live up to the promises of such wartime advertising. Focusing on Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944) and The Big Sleep (Hawks, 1946), this paper analyzes living rooms in 1940s films noir as symbolic of disillusion with previously advertised domestic ideals.

Disillusion and the Armchair

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Calvin Fagan presents ‘Remediating Drones in Contemporary War Cinema’

Wednesday 10th June, 5:30pm, Hitchcock Cinema (Arts One, G19).

The controversial advent of drone warfare has engendered staunch criticism over the ethics of remote killing, with such critiques typically designating drones as the culmination of military-technological trends toward virtualising distanciation that reduce war to the level of a video game. This would seem to problematise the very notion of cinematic remediation, highlighting the growing divide between the war genre’s reliance upon embodied heroics and the virtual interactivity that purportedly characterises both gaming and actual drone missions. Yet recent work by the likes of Derek Gregory has begun to counter such assumptions by focusing in greater detail upon the drone ‘assemblage’ and the subjective perceptual experience of the operator, contending that the high-resolution imaging produces a more intimate sense of visual proximity which is directly responsible for the surprisingly high incidences of PTSD among operators. This paper will explore contemporary cinematic remediations of drones in light of the above theorisations, with a particular focus on the dynamics of panopticism and embodiment. From the first wave of drone remediations in CIA thrillers such as Syriana (2005) and Body of Lies (2008) through to Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty (2013), I will address the aesthetic rendition of drone imagery in these films in terms of its differentiation from satellites and panoptic surveillance. Finally, through a more extended reading of Omer Fast’s Five Thousand Feet is the Best (2011), I will consider how the film’s haptic imagery and haunting fracturing of both spatio-temporal continuity and subjectivity suggest a radically different regime of drone imaging.

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Queen Mary Careers Panel and postgraduate work-in-progress workshop

Queen Mary PhD Careers Panel  
On Thursday 30th April at 4pm, there will be a careers Q&A panel in the Lockkeeper’s Cottage at Queen Mary University of London for PhD students in the Arts and Humanities. The panel will consist of three researchers at different stages in their careers, offering advice and answering questions. Topics will include: publishing, the REF, picking your examiners, finding jobs, life in academia, casualisation, pensions, different routes into the job you want, and any other questions you might want to ask. The panelists are:
Dr Ros Murray (Film, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow. PhD 2011)
Dr Jenny Chamarette (Film, Senior Lecturer. PhD 2009)
Dr Jeremy Hicks (Russian, Reader and Chair of Department. PhD 2000)
All are welcome. There will be a wine reception afterwards.
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Queen Mary postgraduate work-in-progress workshop
Beforehand from 1.30-3.30, a work-in-progress workshop for postgraduates will take place, where 5-6 people will have 20 minutes each to do something academic. You can present a mini-paper, discuss the first page of a proposed article, throw out an idea you’re struggling with, practice your presentation skills, practice a new teaching technique, whatever. Even if you would prefer not to present, come along to listen, take part and discuss in a nice friendly atmosphere.
All postgraduates are welcome and attendance is free. If you would like to take part in the workshop, please email o.kenny [at] qmul.ac.uk. ​

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Nick Jones: ‘Surviving Spaces: Action Sequences, Embodiment and Appropriation’

Thursday 19th March, 5:15pm. Arts One, Room G34.
A form of filmmaking that is globally appealing and immensely popular, action cinema takes full advantage of film’s ability to capture spectacle and generate visceral excitement. Yet the contemporary action sequence’s attention to space and spatial concerns is little remarked upon in critical theory, even though space is one of the key pleasures and organising principles of this cinema. Whatever else may be demanded of the action hero, they are required to navigate shifting, dangerous, or occupied spaces with speed and confidence.
 
In my new book Hollywood Action Films and Spatial Theory I discuss this trait of action cinema, exploring how it represents architecture, globalisation, spaces of capitalist consumption, and cyberspace in under-explored ways. In this talk to mark the launch of the book I outline the key concepts of appropriation and embodiment, as well as how action sequences respond to space and what they do with it. I argue that in a globalised, technologised and consumerist world, action cinema reveals the possibilities and the privations of space.

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