Contemporary Theory Scholarly Interest Group
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I. Mission Statement
The Contemporary Theory Scholarly
Interest Group seeks to be a forum within SCMS for those "doing theory” in
relation to the cinema and other moving image media, with the conviction that
speculative and theoretical thinking about cinema and media is a vital practice
for disciplines of cinema and media studies. The terms "contemporary” and
"theory” in the title are meant to be expansive and inclusive. "Doing theory”
can mean many things from many different approaches and perspectives. Whether
it be psychoanalytical, structuralist, post-structuralist, phenomenological,
critical, philosophical, or otherwise, "theory” can mean any practice of
thinking that continually poses the questions of what cinema and media do or
can do, what they are or can be, how they work or can work. This is not to
merely to retread the methodological orthodoxies of the history of film theory,
but rather to reopen, even to reinvent, the ways we have of thinking about
cinema and media. Doing theory simply means inventing new concepts for the
cinema and for moving image media.
"Contemporary” here is meant to be equally capacious. The
term contemporary is meant to open up, not close down, the objects and
approaches which might be usefully explored under the rubric of "contemporary
theory.” Contemporary, then, might indicate an investigation and elaboration of
theoretical approaches to cinema after the end of "classical” film theory (e.g.
Christian Metz, et al.). Or, it could mean speculation and theoretical
reflection on the cinema and media of our contemporary moment (however long
this moment may be). In this light, it may even mean thinking film theory and
media theory separately in order to think them together. In sum, the
Contemporary Theory SIG aims to bring together scholars working to expand the
scope, breadth, and depth of speculative thinking about the cinema and moving
One of the main goals of the Contemporary Theory SIG lies in
promoting explicitly speculative thought in the disciplines of cinema and media
studies. As such, one of its most important activities will be to sponsor
panels and workshops at the SCMS annual conference. Sponsorship by the
Contemporary Theory SIG will provide useful information to the membership of
SCMS: it will indicate the presence of a specifically theoretical agenda, whose
presence is frequently not obvious from the panel and paper titles alone.
• To hold a yearly
meeting at the SCMS annual conference, where scholars doing speculative and
theoretical work can come together to work on, share, and help one another with
scholarship, programming, and other projects.
• To provide a
forum for scholars interested in speculative and critical theoretical thinking
about the cinema by organizing panels and workshops for the SCMS annual
• To sponsor
panels and workshops at the SCMS annual conference.
• To promote the
practices of speculative and theoretical reflection on cinema and media through
the various activities of the Group.
• To work
withCinema Journaland other film and media publications to
encourage publication of theoretical work, including special issues, dossiers,
• To encourage and
enable connections between film and media scholars and scholars doing
speculative work in other disciplines, including literature, philosophy,
anthropology, art history, etc.
• To develop a
network of scholars working in the fields of film and media theory, which can
serve as professional and academic resource for the SIG membership, as well as
a platform to distribute calls for papers, publicize events, share relevant
• To organize
special projects, including designated panels, joint conferences, plenary
participation, screenings, workshops, and web-based initiatives.
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