Jean Seberg, Celebrity Activism, and Breathless at 60
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7/16/2019 at 9:11:44 PM GMT
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Jean Seberg, Celebrity Activism, and Breathless at 60

CFP:  Jean Seberg, Celebrity Activisim, and Breathless at 60

With this year marking the 60th anniversary of the release of Jean-Luc Godard’s groundbreaking film A bout de soufflé (Breathless), it is an appropriate time to reevaluate the importance and influence of its iconic star Jean Seberg, whose brief life in many ways paralleled the tumultuous changes during a period of major social, political, and artistic upheaval. The beginning of Seberg’s career seemed to be the embodiment of the American dream, as she was selected, soon after graduating from high school, from thousands of applicants to star in Otto Preminger’s Saint Joan. But after suffering negative reviews and the belligerent behavior of her tyrannical director Seberg relocated to Europe where she reinvented herself as a star in films by Godard and other French New Wave directors. In the late 1960s, as part of her lifelong commitment to political activism, Seberg lent her support to a project by the Black Panthers to provide breakfasts to homeless children. As a result, the FBI launched a smear campaign against Seberg that included planting a false news item claiming that she was pregnant by a member of the Black Panthers. Despite appearances in two high profile Hollywood productions, Paint Your Wagon (1969) and Airport (1970), the negative attacks destroyed both her career and her personal life, and she died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. This panel proposal invites submissions that could address not only Seberg’s film work but also the issues raised by her life, including celebrity activism, racial injustice, and government overreach, which remain relevant in today’s political climate.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

-- Seberg’s involvement with the French New Wave

-- Seberg’s influence on later performers and filmmakers

-- Seberg as representative of changes in America in the 1960s and ‘70s

-- Feminist evaluations of Seberg’s work and life

-- Seberg as precursor to today’s celebrity activists

-- Seberg as an example of government overreach and the targeting of high-profile activists

-- Seberg’s significance as a fashion icon

-- Seberg influence on international co-production in film

-- Seberg’s work with specific directors (such as Preminger, Godard, Chabrol, etc.)

Please submit paper proposals, including an abstract (2500 words maximum), up to five bibliographic citations, and a brief bio, to Richard Ness at by August 5, 2019.

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