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(CFP) The New Extremism: Contemporary European Cinema

The New Extremism: Contemporary European Cinema

Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 24th-25th of April 2009

Keynote Speakers:  Dr Martine Beugnet, Edinburgh University, Professor Martin Barker, University of Aberystwyth

In recent years, the term ‘new extremism’ has been used to describe (and often to decry) a growing body of films featuring extreme and graphic representations of sexuality and violence, seemingly designed with the chief aim in mind of shocking or provoking spectators.  The list of filmmakers frequently assembled under this rubric is quite diverse, but often includes Catherine Breillat, Gaspar Noé, Michael Haneke, Bruno Dumont, Fatih Akin, Claire Denis, Philippe Grandrieux, Lukas Moodysson, Marina de Van, François Ozon and Lars Von Trier, to name a few.

Although the films of the new extremism have been decried as reactionary and ostentatious, the recent upsurge of rigorous scholarly attention devoted to this body of work challenges reductive assertions, and confirms the relevance of such provocative and polemical filmmaking. Beyond mere shock tactics, what do these brutal and uncompromising films bring to understandings of cinema today? How do these films solicit, and help to shape, new modes of spectatorship and new ways of relating to cinema?

The aim of this conference is to explore and theorize the paradigm of the new extremism in contemporary European cinema. What new challenges do these filmmakers bring to our understanding of issues of embodiment and intimacy, violation and volition? How do such uncompromising images respond to, or seek to intervene into a set of socio-political and economic realities? In what ways do these films move beyond binaries of passivity and activity, voyeurism and masochism?

With these and other relevant questions in mind, we invite papers that critically examine the ‘new extremism’ in contemporary European cinema.  Possible topics may also include (but are by no means restricted to) the following:

  • Issues of spectatorship
  • The ethics of extremism and the ‘ethical turn’ in critical and cultural theory
  • Feminist and psychoanalytic approaches
  • Questions of trauma (psychological, corporeal, national, historical)
  • Debates about cinematic realism, materiality and the Real
  • Theories of sensation and affect
  • New approaches to sexuality and violence
  • Temporal/spatial formations in the new extremism
  • Issues of political agency and social exclusion
  • Influences on the new extremism: mainstream and avant-garde traditions
  • Reception studies
  • Questions of authorship

Proposals (up to 500 word abstracts) should be sent by November 21st, 2008 to:
Tanya Horeck (Tanya.Horeck@anglia.ac.uk)

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