Comparing New Cinema Histories: methodologies and practices from a global perspective

15 June 2020:       – Deadline for Receiving Abstracts

30 July 2020:       – Confirm abstracts accepted

In the 20th Century, film was one of the most emblematic, popular and globally distributed forms of entertainment. However, films were not exploited in similar ways and not viewed in identical circumstances. Already in 2005 Paul Willemen had proposed “a number of probably inevitable theoretical frameworks and tools to implement a comparative approach to the study of a thoroughly industrialized cultural form, such as cinema and films” (2005: 98). However, his approach was geared predominantly to the study of film image and its cultural significance through four theoretical constellations than the study of film consumption, cinema memories and practices of cinema-going, which is at the heart of this edited collection. Biltereyst and Meers’ (2016: 13) “call for more systematic comparative research” within New Cinema History (NCH) invited scholars to develop a comparative perspective which “would be helpful when trying to understand larger trends, factors or conditions explaining differences and similarities in cinema cultures” (2016: 13). While ‘comparative research is only weakly developed within film and cinema studies’ (Biltereyst, Van Oort and Meers 2019: 96), there are new signs of growing interest in developing this approach further. For instance, the European Cinema Audiences project (www.europeancinemaaudiences.org) and the forthcoming special issue of the Journal for Media History on ‘Methodological Challenges to Comparative Histories of Cinema Audiences’ (2020) are just two examples of research aiming to advance further the discussion on comparative methodologies applied to cinema history.

Building on the work of cultural historians studying the reciprocal traffic of culture across borders (Burke, 1997; Schwarts, 2007; Werner and Zimmermann, 2006), this volume aims to move beyond the “monocentric” approach and the particularism of national cinema histories in order to explore and compare diverse film cultures across cities, regions, and countries. This would encourage “a thoughtful, systematic comparison of cinematic phenomena across different geographic or temporal entities” (Biltereyst and Meers 2016: 14-15) which would force what Hantrais (1999: 93) calls a shift from “universalistic culture-free approach to culture-boundedness”, where contextualization is central and “an in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural, economic and political contexts in which social phenomena develop is a precondition for successful cross-national comparative research” (Hantrais 1999: 94).

For this publication we invite comparative studies across different cities/regions/countries with possible topics including but not limited to:

– Film Programming
– Historical and Contemporary Audiences
– Distribution networks and international strategies
– Memories of cinema-going
– Comparison of movie-going patterns
– Exhibition characteristics
– Economic film history
– Non-theatrical cinema
– Censorship

This volume aims to encourage comparative and collaborative scholarship. In the spirit of New Cinema History, we welcome papers from disciplines beyond history and film studies. We also seek to include work in less explored global regions like South America, Africa, and Asia.

Please send abstracts (500 words) to: Daniela Treveri Gennari (dtreveri-gennari@brookes.ac.uk), Lies Van de Vijver (Liesbeth.VandeVijver@ugent.be) and Pierluigi Ercole (pier.ercole@dmu.ac.uk) by the 15th of June. Authors will be notified of acceptance by the end of July. A book proposal will be sent to the publisher by the end of September and all chapters will need to be submitted by the 31st of March 2021.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *