Popular Seriality — Round Two!

popular_seriality_logo_550_300I am very excited to announce today that the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / German Research Foundation) has now officially approved the application of the Research Unit “Popular Seriality — Aesthetics and Practice” for a second 3-year funding period! From October 2013 through September 2016, we will continue our research on serial forms and processes in popular culture, this time around through seven newly developed projects:

Serial Politicization: On the Cultural Work of American City Mysteries, 1844-1860 (Daniel Stein, Berlin)

Serial Narration in Popular German-Language Periodicals from 1850 to 1890 (Claudia Stockinger and Stefan Scherer, Göttingen and Karslruhe)

Serializing Mass Culture: Popular Film Serials and Serial Structures in the United States, 1910-1940 (Ruth Mayer, with Ilka Brasch, Hannover)

Writing Series: The Occupational Culture of Present-Day German Televised Entertainment (Regina Bendix, Göttingen)

Retrospective Serialization: Remaking as a Method of Cinematic Self-Historicizing (Frank Kelleter and Kathleen Loock, Berlin)

Digital Seriality: The Serial Aesthetics and Practice of Digital Games (Shane Denson and Andreas Jahn-Sudmann, Hannover and Berlin)

Real-Life Storytelling: The Threefold Formal Structure of Reality TV as a Procedure of Cumulative Serialization (Christian Hißnauer, Göttingen)

For more information about the Research Unit — our past and present projects, publications, news, events, and other information — please refer to our official homepage: here.

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English Theatre Group: Oscar Wilde Double-Bill

The English Theatre Group, under the direction of Peter Bennett, will be performing Oscar Wilde’s Salome and The Fisherman and His Soul (an original dramatization of Wilde’s fairy tale) as a double-bill. Please note that there is a new venue this semester: “die hinterbuene” at Hildesheimer Str. 39A. Performances are on July 17, 18, 20, and 21 at 7:30pm. Contrary to the information on the above flyer, advance ticket sales begin on Monday, July 2, and run through Friday, July 13, in the foyer of the Conti-Hochhaus at Königsworther Platz 1.

Chaos Cinema? A Film Series

(click on image for larger view)

“During the first decade of the 21st century, film style changed profoundly.”

This, at least, is the thesis put forward by Matthias Stork in a series of highly controversial video essays that have circulated recently on the Internet. According to Stork, “Contemporary blockbusters, particularly action movies, trade visual intelligibility for sensory overload, and the result is a film style marked by excess, exaggeration and overindulgence: chaos cinema.”

In a series of film screenings, we would like to engage critically with Stork’s notion of chaos cinema. We shall begin by viewing Stork’s video essays themselves, before moving on to some of the films he discusses and others that exemplify and/or challenge the paradigm of chaos cinema.

For those interested, here are some links to useful background and discussion:

First, Stork’s thesis must be seen against the background of David Bordwell’s notion of “intensified continuity,” which is seen to mark a change from the classical Hollywood style that dominated American cinema from around 1920 until (at least) the 1960s. Chaos cinema, according to Stork, goes further in effecting a radical break with continuity principles, whether classical or intensified.

Another important context is Steven Shaviro’s book Post-Cinematic Affect, which introduced the term “post-continuity.” (A Google Books preview can be found here, but note that approximately two-thirds of the book appeared in the open access journal Film-Philosophy under the title “Post-Cinematic Affect: On Grace Jones, Boarding Gate and Southland Tales.) More recently, Shaviro has returned to the topic and reflected explicitly on Stork’s notion of chaos cinema in a talk given at the 2012 annual conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, reprinted in full on his blog The Pinocchio Theory.

And here, finally, is the schedule of screenings (note that all screenings will be held in room 615 of the Conti-Hochhaus, at 6:00 pm):

April 26, 2012: “Chaos Cinema” (Matthias Stork, 2011)

May 24, 2012: Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000)

June 21, 2012: Transformers (Michael Bay, 2007)

July 5, 2012: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright, 2010)

July 19, 2012: WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)

Films will be shown in English original with subtitles where available. Screenings are open to all, so feel free to spread the word!

Meanwhile, in Hannover…

An interview with me on the subject of memes, conducted by Manuel Behrens, appears in today’s Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung as part of a full-page spread on Boromir, Philosoraptor, Admiral Ackbar, and Rage Comics. True story! Check it out here: Was sind eigentlich Memes? (The interview, “Jeder kann mitmachen,” is at the bottom of the page.)

Film & TV Reading Group: Lynn Spigel on TV, Housewives, and MoMA

The Film & TV Reading Group at the Leibniz Universität Hannover will be meeting this Wednesday, November 30, 2011, to discuss Lynn Spigel‘s “Television, The Housewife, and the Museum of Modern Art” (in Television after TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition, ed. Lynn Spigel and Jan Olsson; Durham & London: Duke UP, 2004; pp. 349-385).

Lynn Spigel will be one of our keynote speakers at “Cultural Distinctions Remediated: Beyond the High, the Low, and the Middle,” December 15-17, 2011. Her talk is entitled “Designer TV: Television and the Taste for Modernism in Mid-Century America” (click for abstract).

The reading group will meet at 6:00 pm in room 609 (in the “Conti-Hochhaus” at Königsworther Platz 1). New members are always welcome to join us!

Conference Poster, Program, and Paraphernalia

Here is the final poster (above) that Florian Groß and I put together for our conference “Cultural Distinctions Remediated: Beyond the High, the Low, and the Middle.” As mentioned before, artist James Hance graciously allowed us to use his “Dark Starry Knight” for our conference materials. For this we are very grateful. (And if you like his artwork, please consider making a donation to the fund that James has set up to help pay the medical bills for his daughter Maddy.)

Here (below) is the final program as it will be printed (as a 6-sided folded flyer):

 And here’s the inside view:

Click to enlarge. (And see here for links to abstracts for all the presentations.) Finally, in case you missed it, here’s the unofficial promo video for the conference: