The organizing principle of the Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023 annual conference is to explore the critical and ongoing work of theory in our field. Film Studies emerged as a discipline in the late 1960s and 1970s in the wake of an explosive interest in theory. This interest prompted robust discussion and debate about politics and textual analysis; spectatorship and psychoanalysis; feminist film theory; and fundamental questions regarding gender, race, and sexuality. More than fifty years later, how do we understand theory in our current moment? We are interested in probing this question from several angles: the relationship between film theory and media theory, the geopolitics of film and theory, the effort to move beyond European and U.S. intellectual genealogies, and various modes of engagement with the history of film theory. These modes of engagement involve a wide spectrum of approaches, including theories of representation; viewing, distribution, exhibition, and reception practices; and questions of ideology, politics, and technology. If theory was foundational to our once emergent discipline, what role does theory play now?
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