CFP Extended Deadline*Feb10th*: "Documenting the Archive," Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago

Ritika Kaushik's picture
Call for Papers
February 10, 2019
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
Film and Film History, Archival Science, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Digital Humanities

Documenting the Archive

15th Annual Graduate Student Conference 

Department of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago

April 26th and 27th, 2019

Keynote Speaker: Paula Amad, Associate Professor and Department Chair, The Department of Cinematic Arts, The University of Iowa

 Documentary film practice inflects and is in turn also inflected by the theories and practices around the study of the archive. Documenting the Archive aims to be a forum for theoretical and methodological interventions in cinema and media studies by invoking the archive’s historical and theoretical relationship with cinema, especially documentary film practice. The latin root of the word document, “docere”—which means to show, to teach, or to cause to know—connotes the fraught yet deeply intertwined historical relation between the word ‘document’ and the terms ‘documentary’ and ‘archive’. The practices of documentary filmmaking and of archival production, distribution, and preservation both share the challenged notion of the document as a repository of knowledge. Archives don’t just happen to be there; they are social, historical, political, and cultural constructions that in turn construct social relations themselves. Documentary cinema participates in a similar dialectic: on the one hand, it engages with the world presented in front of the camera—the profilmic. Yet, on the other, it is inextricable from the concerns posited by the archive: evidence, testimony, and historiography. Film scholars and practitioners have animated the archive by imagining new configurations of it, speculating about its lost fragments and absences and exploring the limits and possibilities of cinema’s medium to counter and resist an idea of archive as a static and classificatory storehouse of the past. Recent theoretical works (Amad 2010, Baron 2013, Russell 2018) specifically engage with archives in relation to film and documentary forms. As new modes of apprehending and preserving the everyday are redefining and reconfiguring documentary film practice, the transitions to digital paradigms have led to an epistemological destabilization as well as a reconsideration of the concept of the archive itself. In the wake of technological transformations, what are the political, ethical and aesthetic implications involved in the institutional preservation, artistic strategies, collective praxis and modes of exhibition practices in relation to the archives? The conference pushes the boundaries of cinema and media studies to ask what domains of critical inquiry, forms of experience, and historiographic methodologies emerge by examining the multifarious relations between documentary and archives. 

Possible paper topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Appropriation Art/Films/Videos
  • Found-footage, Found-Sound, Found-text Practices
  • Film Fragments-Archival Fragments
  • Orphan Cinema
  • Essay Films and ‘images of the past’
  • Home Movies and Personal Archives 
  • Feminist and Queer Archival Studies
  • Memory, Trauma and Colonial Archives
  • Speculative methodologies /  Afro-Futurism
  • Government archives and films / Propaganda forms 
  • Contemporary Art and the Archive / Artists as Archivists
  • Politics and Ethics of Exhibition and Curatorial Practices 
  • Representation and Contemporary Visual Culture / Embodied Practices of Archival Recuperation (e.g., Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’, Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’) 
  • Forensic Archiving and Media Practice
  • New media and archives of the everyday 
  • Digital Historiography

We welcome papers from academicians, documentary/film/media practitioners and archival practitioners across disciplines interested in interrogating issues related to documentary film and archival practices and the ones raised above. We highly encourage creative, experimental and alternative modes of presentation that can embody the spirit of the conference CFP in audio-visual/ performative forms.

Please email an abstract (250-300 words) along with a short bio to the organising committee co-chairs Sean Batton, Ritika Kaushik, and Cinta Pelejà at: by February 10, 2019. Participants will be notified by the end of February.

Contact Info:

Documenting the Archive: XVth Annual Graduate Student Conference
Organised by: Cinta Pelejà. Ritika Kaushik and Sean Batton
Cinema and Media Studies
University of Chicago