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Call for submission, Mise Au Point, Issue n°8
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"Theories of cinema: Cliques and Quarrels"

Because there is, by general agreement, no truly indigenous theory of moving images, various approaches have been used to study film and television since they entered the university. Sometimes, when they lead to complementary interdisciplinary approaches, their co-existence is harmonious. This new issue of Mise Au Point, however, will be devoted to those other cases which lead to Balkanization or conflict.

There are at least two features of this antagonism. The first is their mutual indifference, leading to the constitution of autonomous cliques – something Christian Metz remarked late in life, lamenting the “lack of bridges” between them. The second is the many ways they are opposed. Sometimes this opposition takes the form of a simple criticism or by taking a dig at the other side at a conference; at other times (even if these are quite rare in the end) the opposing camp replies and a polemics break out in scholarly journals. Do these quarrels advance scholarly knowledge in any way, or do they simply demonstrate the existence of cliques separated by “incommensurable paradigms”?

  • We are thinking for example of:

  • quarrels around methods (rationality vs. intuition, whether to use the hard sciences, etc.);

  • quarrels around the definition of the object of study (whether to take the context into account, the author’s intentions, etc.);

  • simply opposing a tool, concept or branch of thought (being against the Frankfurt School, psychology, psychoanalysis, “dispositif” theory, cultural studies, gender studies, queer studies, etc.);

  • internecine quarrels within the same “school” or branch of thought;

  • quarrels related to national traditions or to the growing internationalization of film studies (French vs. Anglo-Saxon, German or Japanese theoretical perspectives; theoretical transcendentalism vs. Eurocentrism or trans-nationalism, etc.).

These confrontations sometimes take a political turn (when theory allies itself with political practice or activism) or a corporatist turn (filmmakers, critics and scholars produce theory). The national dimension also appears, with a particular country said to be deaf to a particular approach and fond of another (Eurocentrism vs. a transnational perspective, for example). At other times the quarrel is connected to the images themselves, to their style or the techniques associated with them: the medium’s purity vs. its impurity, special effects vs. objectivity, absorption vs. distancing, film vs. audiovisual technologies, etc.

Contributions on the history of theories are anticipated, revisiting the controversies that stirred up the microcosm of film and audiovisual studies (structuralism vs. aesthetics, for example). We are also thinking, of course, of the epistemology and philosophy of the sciences and possible comparisons with other fields of study. Contributions which themselves are looking for a quarrel and polemicize are also welcome, as long as they also give voice to a position contradictory to the author’s – here one might imagine co-authored articles in the form of a dialogue of conflicting views.

Proposals must be submitted, in French or English, to Martin Lefebvre (martin.lefebvre@concordia.ca) and Laurent Jullier (laurent.jullier@univ-paris3.fr) by the deadline of 15 June 2014. Following study of the proposals by the editorial committee of MISE AU POINT, Cahiers de l’AFECCAV, authors whose submissions are accepted agree to complete their contribution by 1 November 2014.