C21’s annual international conferences promote cross-disciplinary research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Papers delivered at the conferences are typically reworked into peer-reviewed essays that appear in our book series with the University of Minnesota Press (and earlier with Indiana University Press). Descriptions and some programs of recent conferences are available below.

Ends of Cinema

May 3-5, 2018

Call for Papers (CFP)
Abstracts due January 8, 2018

Black, Electromedia Performance at Black Gate Theatre, New York 1967. Copyright Aldo Tambellini | Photo: Richard Raderman

Are we now in an age of “post-cinema?” Has the massive global wave of digital production, distribution, and exhibition finally eradicated cinema as we’ve known it? Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, and Peter Greenaway seem to think so, as well as academics from Paolo Cherchi Usai to Alexander Zahlten.

Whatever the object “cinema” was, it seems to have been summarily executed in the digital era. But whose cinema is ending? If “cinema” implies a universal canon built on default ideologies, has its “death” been a response, in part, to deeper investigations into diversities made possible by increased access to the means of production? Are cinema’s many deaths, then, bound to another kind of end: what we understand to be the goal of cinema, whether political, aesthetic, representational, theoretical, or technological?

Over visual media’s long century, the emergence of new technologies, both filmic and otherwise, have repeatedly elegized cinema’s ruin and celebrated its rejuvenation. The end of cinema, it seems, is fissiparous and cyclical; it has happened, it hasn’t happened, it has happened in fits and starts, and it will happen again. If no one death can be attributed to cinema, perhaps the answer is to consider its multiple endings—and subsequent new beginnings.

As part of the Center’s 50th anniversary year, this conference is also meant to look back to the Center’s beginnings and forward towards its future. From the mid-1970s to the end of the 1980s, the (then) Center for 20th Century Studies staged more than a half-dozen international conferences on the emerging disciplines of film, television, and performance studies. These conferences not only helped define these nascent fields but also established the Center’s reputation as a crucial site for research and teaching in film, media, and feminist theory. In looking backwards and forwards to the Ends of Cinema, C21 hopes both to celebrate the Center’s first half-century and to look ahead to the decades to come.

Confirmed plenary speakers

Caetlin Benson-Allott (Georgetown), James Leo Cahill (Toronto), Francesco Casetti (Yale), Mary Ann Doane (Berkeley), André Gaudreault (Montreal), Michael Gillespie (City College), Jean Ma (Stanford), Amy Villarejo (Cornell).

Conference website

Black, Electromedia Performance at Black Gate Theatre, New York 1967
Copyright Aldo Tambellini | Photo: Richard Raderman

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Previous Conference Event Pages

Call for Conference Proposals

The Center seeks proposals that will further its mission of promoting cutting-edge research and encouraging dialogue across disciplinary boundaries in the humanities, arts, and humanistically informed social sciences. Topics should have the potential both of appealing to a broad range of researchers in and around UWM and of having a wider impact on scholarly debates in the humanities nationally and internationally. Any topic that falls within the humanities, broadly conceived, has interdisciplinary appeal, and does not duplicate recent conferences may be proposed.