Archive for April 2009

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[ecrea] CFP - Media, Communication and the Spectacle

Fri Apr 17 16:56:03 GMT 2009

Media, Communication and the Spectacle
Rotterdam, 26-27 November 2009
Venue: Erasmus University Rotterdam

Organised by:

Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture


Gender and Communication section;
Communication and Democracy section;
Film Studies section;
Young Scholars' Network.

"Today's wind is one of spectacle. It may not be of our making. Its origins may not be the pure lands of the Enlightenment but instead the commercial barrens of advertising and entertainment. But use it we must, for without the wind, we are becalmed, stuck,
going nowhere"
Andrew Boyd and Stephen Duncombe (2004) 'The Manufacture of Dissent: What
the Left Can Learn from Las Vegas', Journal of Aesthetics & Protest 1(3).

Claims about the spectacularisation of different aspects of contemporary life are often
heard, and the media are often blamed for the part they play in presenting
spectacularised takes on political and social questions. The idea of 'spectacle' is normally presented as pervasive, as it is believed to trivialise the issues at stake, and uncritically gives oxygen to simplifying, often stigmatising, stereotypes. Now-classic
works in media studies (such as Daniel Boorstin's The Image or Neil Postman's
Amusing Ourselves Up to Death) have addressed these issues, exercising an
undeniable influence over media scholarship. Influenced by the seminal work of Guy Debord (Society of Spectacle, 1967) through which the notion of spectacle actually transcended its media specificity, contemporary readings of Debord stress the need to re-conceptualise the idea of the spectacle in relation to the current neo-liberal consumer
media culture.

Viewing the notion of the spectacle in broad terms, this colloquium seeks to bring together scholarly work from academic fields such as democracy and (new) media, as well as journalism and film studies. The spectacle provides a powerful concept able to initiate a new "wind" in media and communication studies. It relates to theories on 'hyperreality', the 'gaze', 'performance' and the 'scopic' as well as to theories on active
popular media consumption, the social meanings and impacts of communication,
representation, and the relationship between media and culture, even extending to media and cultural policies. The cultural, economic, technological, social, and political conditions underpinning the society of the spectacle provide insights into the study and
analysis of media production, representation and reception.

This colloquium aims to provide a broad overview of recent theories and empirical work
engaging with the phenomenon of the spectacle by focussing on media and
communication in relation to film studies, gender and democracy. This conference is intended to discuss a diversity of perspectives and reflections on the media as a
spectacle from a wide range of approaches.

We invite paper and panel proposals related to the central theme of the conference,
including (but not limited to) the following topics:

_ The notion of society of the spectacle.
_ Culture as spectacle in the media.
_ The use of performance and spectacle by protest movements, creating or being
part of media events
_ Infotainment as spectacle
_ Hollywood and spectacular images: blockbusters, CGI, etc.
_ Consuming the spectacle: historical and contemporary practices of cinema going. _ Behind the screens of the spectacle: the political economy of cultural industries _ Screening the (un)spectacular? World cinemas and/as alternative screen cultures
_ Fandom, cult media/film and performative consumption
_ Youtube and citizens' spectacularised self-presentation
_ The hyperreality of the spectacle of 'truth' (linked to information, news,
representations, visual culture as such, etc.).
_ The materiality of information production as commodity fetishism (commodities
become images and the other way around).
_ Private/public debate and the spectacle of bodies, gendered bodies, politics, etc.
_ The imaginary and media performativity.
_ Vision and Voyeurism: The Politics of Surveillance Post-9/11

Proposals: abstracts of max. 400 words can be submitted via e-mail to:
(ermecc /at/ Abstracts may be submitted as attachment in word, .rtf or .txt format or embedded in the body of the email. Please make sure to include the name of the author(s), affiliation, contact address, and email. Young scholars are also encouraged to
apply. When submitting your abstract, please indicate to which section you are
submitting: Gender and Communication, Communication and Democracy, or Film
Deadline for sending in the paper abstract is 1 May 2009. Notification of selection will be
no later than 15 June 2009.

URL: <>

Philippe Meers (PhD)
Associate Professor
Research Group Visual Culture
Department of Communication Studies
University of Antwerp
Sint-Jacobstraat 2
BE-2000 Antwerp
tel: **/32/3/275.55.85
fax: **/32/3/275.57.87
e-mail:    <mailto:(philippe.meers /at/>(philippe.meers /at/
website: <>

              ECREA film studies section


Nico Carpentier (Phd)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Free University of Brussels
Centre for Studies on Media and Culture (CeMeSO)
Pleinlaan 2 - B-1050 Brussels - Belgium
T: ++ 32 (0)2-629.18.56
F: ++ 32 (0)2-629.36.84
Office: 5B.401a
European Communication Research and Education Association
E-mail: (Nico.Carpentier /at/
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