Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Penn Colloquium: Mia Mask

Mia Mask (Vassar),
"The Precarious Politics of 'Precious'"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Penn Cinema Studies Colloquium
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall
3340 Walnut Street
University of Pennsylvania

There has been considerable controversy over Lee Daniels' film Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire since its release in 2009. Various news outlets such as The New York Times, ABC News.com and The Huffington Post have published discussion of the film's polarizing effect. For example, on November 21, 2009 Times writer Felicia R. Lee posed the question that seemed to be on many people's minds: Is the film a reinforcement of noxious stereotypes or a realistic and therapeutic portrayal of a black family in America? In its unrelenting close examination of the eponymous character's tragically abusive childhood, Precious is simultaneously a grueling social problem picture for the twenty-first century and an amalgamation of familiar images that resonate with racial stereotypes. The film -- and its controversial reception -- has even been linked to other contested movies like The Color Purple (1985). Prominent intellectuals and journalists such as author Jill Nelson and literary scholar Ishmael Reed have addressed what Nelson described as "self-hatred" and Reed termed "The racism at the heart of Precious." In my essay, entitled "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Precious Discourse on Black Cinema," or "The Precarious Politics of Precious," I examine the critical controversy ignited by the film and offer my own close reading of the text. By closely reading the performances, the film's aesthetic, and the social context, I argue that Precious is complex and contradictory rather than simply offensive.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Penn Colloquium: Luis Moreno-Caballud

Luis Moreno-Caballud
"Editing Neighborhoods: the Politics of Urban Transformation in Recent Iberian Documentary Films"

Cinema Studies Colloquium

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 12:00pm
330 Fisher-Bennett Hall
University of Pennsylvania

In the context of the latest developments of the Spanish May 15th movement, the social space of the neighborhood has suddenly regained importance. When “tent cities” in the main squares became unsustainable, the collective intelligence of the “indignados” crystallized in a clear message: let’s move to the neighborhoods. This movement echoes a long Spanish tradition of imagining the urban neighborhood as a space for political resistance, a tradition in which documentary film has had an important role. During the last decade, many documentary filmmakers have returned to the neighborhood to tell stories of urban transformation, in each case with a different vision of the political dimension of these changes. In this presentation, I will compare two divergent accounts of the “gentrification” of the so-called “Chinese neighborhood” in Barcelona. I will show how En construcción (José Luis Guerín, 2001) suggests that urban transformation can disclose accumulated layers of human experience, while De Nens (Joaquim Jordà, 2003) presents urban change as a surface phenomenon that cloaks an intricate web of manipulations and interests. These two cinematic approaches, which will be compared with those of other documentary films, establish radically different narratives for the political imaginary of the Spanish neighborhood. Parsing out these narratives is particularly important at a moment in which the space of the urban neighborhood has been revitalized by the May 15th movement.

Hal Foster at Tyler School of Art

Not strictly film or media studies, but this might be of interest....

Hal Foster
Toward a Grammar of Emergency

Wednesday, October 5
6:00 PM

2001 N. 13TH STREET
(Temple Main Campus)

In his talk titled "Toward a Grammar of Emergency," Hal Foster will discuss four key concepts in the work of Thomas Hirschhorn: the precarious, the creaturely, expenditure, and emergency.

“Crystal of Resistance” by Thomas Hirschhorn at Swiss Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2011.

Hal Foster is Townsend Martin '17 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. He teaches lecture and seminar courses in modernist and contemporary art and theory; he also directs the graduate proseminar in methodology. Foster is an associate member of the School of Architecture and the Department of German; he also works with the programs of Media and Modernity and European Cultural Studies. Recent books include Art Since 1900 (2005), a co-authored textbook on 20th-century art; Prosthetic Gods (2004), concerning the relation between modernism and psychoanalysis; and Design and Crime (2002), on problems in contemporary art, architecture, and design. His book, Figment: Painting and Subjectivity in the First Pop Age, is due out in 2011, to be followed by Image Building: Essays on the Art-Architecture Rapport. He is presently at work on a theory of modernism as a way (in the words of Walter Benjamin) “to outlive culture, if need be.” A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foster continues to write regularly for October (which he co-edits), Artforum, and The London Review of Books.

The Critical Dialogue Series, a core component of the MFA program at the Tyler School of Art, is co-sponsored by the Philosophy Department, the Architecture Department, the Department of Journalism, the Film and Media Arts Department, and the Department of Art History.