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Representing and Identifying Film Style

The 17th annual Midwest Conference on Literature, Language, and Media (MCLLM) will be held March 20-21, 2009 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

Considerations of film style are multifaceted. There are films that expertly make their cinematic representation clear, such as Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005), while others aim for a more invisible and neutral, though some might derisively say neutered, representational style. Yet, as Timothy Corrigan notes, “Even when they go unnoticed, stylistic strategies and conventions […] are sometimes the most important and distinguishing features in a work of literature or film” (85). This call for papers asks for essays that consider the representation of style, and desires essays that question and interrogate classical film notions of invisible as well as visible film style.

For example, do Judd Apatow’s brand of films gain any more legitimacy for film style after indie director David Gorden Green comes in and directs Pineapple Express (2008)? How does a stylist like Green alter and transform the invisible film aesthetic that had been formerly established by Apatow? Similarly, how does Green’s aesthetic become co-opted and subsumed by the Apatow brand?

These questions also shift to matters of film style as they relate to directors adopting methods that have been customarily used by foreign or art cinema. In Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming The Wrestler (2008), to make one example, Aronofsky has drawn attention from critics such as Nick Schager for “exhibit[ing] an economic precision typified by Dardennes-ish tracking shots from behind.” How do these co-opted methods of style inform a given film and its modes of production? How do its liberal uses of homage to other filmmakers shape our perception of the cinema in general? How are these films gaining import through their tracing, appropriating, or expanding of the historicity behind cinema? How do the modes of production prevalent in film today complicate notions of purity or cinema verite?

These questions of film style range from the arthouse to the multiplex, from the James Bond series to the Bourne series aesthetic. As such, all topics or considerations about film and film studies are welcomed, from aesthetic, to reception theory, to issues of affect, etc.

Deadline for submission: January 2, 2009.

Please include a cover page with your name, affiliation, mailing address, and e-mail address. Accepted contributions will be notified via e-mail by January 19, 2009. Please submit your 250 word (one page) abstract as an attachment to mcllm2009_at_gmail.com

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