Battlegrounds: Sites and Sights of Conflict
University of Pittsburgh, October 14-15, 2011
Hosted by the Film Studies Graduate Student Organization (FSGSO)
For over a century, visual media have played a crucial role in how war and political conflicts are waged, presented, represented, and digested in sites around the globe. Film (in particular) has had a storied and fraught history in relation to conflict: it has commonly been used an instrument of propaganda, distraction, and entertainment, yet has also served as a tool for documentation and education. Our contemporary memories and perceptions of war have been filtered through the cinema, which has provided a visual means for creating coherent narratives out of the often senseless combat of cultural disputes. As political unrest persists around the world, new visual media have in many ways usurped cinema's privileged role in confronting and re-presenting conflict. Specifically, as new visual media develop, they are commandeered as artillery for increasingly amorphous battlegrounds, further muddling the line that distinguishes representation from participation. Tellingly, the U.S. Army and Hezbollah have both developed first-person shooter video games, the Israeli Defense Force maintained a YouTube channel to manage their public relations during “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in 2008, and “soldiers” utilize video game-like consoles to pilot unmanned predator drones in countries thousands of miles away. Moreover, if “swaying hearts and minds” has become one the principal strategies for achieving objectives in modern wars, then the visual has become the chief means of gaining access to those sympathies.
Our conference welcomes a broad range of Humanities-centered approaches on the ways in which visual media both directly and indirectly affect the cultural experience of war. While we expect that visual media theory and history will provide particular insight into our concerns, we invite all papers performing theoretical, historical, hermeneutical and/or other types analysis of visual media subject matter ranging from mainstream to marginal cultural forms. Moreover, by examining sites of conflict including but not limited to historical battlefields, contemporary areas of political strife, and the imaginary/allegorical combat arenas of fictional skirmishes, we adopt a broad conception of “war” to better understand the role that visual media has played (and continues to play) in shaping and reshaping sites of conflict.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15, 2011. Please include paper title, your name, institutional/departmental affiliation and email. Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes. Open to graduate students only.
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