First Forum 2018, Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Conference, USC

First Forum 2018, Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Conference, USC
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 12:00am to Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - 12:00am

FIRST FORUM invites submissions that explore the many meanings and implications of the concept of “emergency” in relation to cinema and media scholars and practitioners. The concept of the exception, the anomaly, and the crisis pervade both contemporary aesthetics and academic discourse, connected to Giorgio Agamben’s “state of exception.” In an emergency situation, the drive toward immediate response often disrupts perceptions of what is acceptable or permissible behavior. “Fake news,” live streaming, augmented reality, and dystopian fiction all exemplify responses to or attempts to reckon with moments of crisis or instability. Often these forms emphasize dissolution and destruction, often in a reactionary mode. While the contingency of an emergency state suggests precarity and uncertainty, it also possesses the possibility of new aesthetic, political, and social modes that have yet to be realized. Emergence can not only be theorized, but also practiced. What does media produced under states of emergency look and sound like? What is the role of the artist in moments of crisis?

WE SEEK to complicate this negative framework by bringing emergency into conversation with the connected term emergence. Emergency and emergence also can be considered catalytic concepts, cultivating moments of potential and fostering new forms of organization to respond to an emergency’s urgent call. What kinds of action are motivated by emergency thinking? How do viewers respond to media produced under emergency conditions? What other vocabularies might be employed to characterize radical change or a disruption in norms? Is there a way to conceptualize emergency that takes into consideration different modalities and histories? We invite interrogation of the potential of the theory and practice of emergency and of alternatives to this term, as ways of thinking about social, political, technological, and aesthetic transformations that occur during times of uncertainty.

POSSIBLE TOPICS might include: Practice-based work responding to crisis // Media technologies in both theory and practice // Journalism and propaganda // News and information (i.e. 24-hour news cycle, online fora, live streaming, etc.) // Political, humanitarian, and activist documentary // Live streaming // “Fake news” and concepts of truth // Ecology, the environment, climate change // Utopias and dystopias // Revolution and social action // Alternate forms of historiography and history-making // Aesthetic theories of emergence and systematicity

IN ADDITION to panel presentations, we will have a keynote speaker, alumni respondents, and a faculty roundtable.

PLEASE SUBMIT an abstract of no more than 200 words for a 20 minute panel presentation and a short bio. Non-traditional, creative projects are welcome, as are individual papers or pre-constituted panels. Please email your submissions and inquiries to by May 1st, 2018.


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