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[ecrea] CFP: Rethinking Transcendental Style

Tue Jul 14 20:12:10 GMT 2015


Call for paper proposals for a pre-organized panel at SCMS 2016

Rethinking Transcendental Style:

New Approaches to Spirituality and Cinematic Form

The spiritual dimensions of film aesthetics have long been a neglected
topic within mainline Film Studies. Since its nascence as in the 1960s,
the discipline highlighted the connections between film and
sociohistorical realities through a “critical method that privileges
that which is already known—and hence the cognitive templates in which
the already known is.”[1] Within this scholarly state of mind, then,
spirituality was equated with pre-Enlightenment credulity, and as a
result, its relationship with cinematic form was left out of
consideration. Only on the margins of the field did some conversation of
this relationship exist, mainly through the scholarly contributions of
Amadee Ayfre, Henri Agel, Susan Sontag and Paul Schrader, which reduced
the question of how film can represent spiritual truth aesthetically to
a minimalist, slow, austere, and anti-dramatic style. In the absence of
a multifaceted discussion of spiritual aesthetics in cinema studies,
this “Transcendental Style,” to use Schrader’s influential term, became
a prominent model, overshadowing all other potential voices of dissension.

This panel proposes to revamp scholarly interest in film form’s
spiritual dimensions through a critical reevaluation of the
“Transcendental Style,” and especially its claim to a universal
spirituality that can be expressed through a singular aesthetic mode.
Inspired by recent works such by Sheila Nayar or Joe Kickasola amongst
others, it will acknowledge the issue of how different geopolitical
contexts produce different aesthetic approaches to filmic spirituality
that are influenced by their own particular cultural heritages. This
approach, in turn, will afford the opportunity to also question the
consistency of the Transcendental Style paradigm itself in relation to
the films it attempted to explain and universalize. Consequently,
through indicative case studies, a broader understanding of spiritual
film stylistics—one viewed through a culturally sensitive, transnational
lens—will hopefully emerge.

[1] Jeffery Pence, “Cinema of the Sublime: Theorizing the Ineffable,”
Poetics Today 25.1 (Spring 2004): 52.

Dan Chyutin, University of Pittsburgh

Cristina Ruiz-Poveda, University of Florida

Proposals should include a 250-word abstract and a brief bio.

Please send all materials to Cristina Ruiz-Poveda ((cruizpoveda /at/
by August 15, 2015.  Selected submissions will be notified by August 22,

Dan Chyutin

PhD Candidate
Department of English/Film Studies Program
University of Pittsburgh
526 Cathedral of Learning
4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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