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[ecrea] CFP: Experimentation, Avant-garde, and Deviation from the Norm in Classical Hollywood Cinema

Mon Feb 26 13:52:30 GMT 2018

We are pleased to announce the call for papers of the next issue of /L’Atalante. Revista de Estudios Cinematográficos/ which, under the title of “Experimentation, Avant-garde, and Deviation from the Norm in Classical Hollywood Cinema”, is open to contributions. You can find detailed information at:

The deadline for article proposals for the “Notebook” section is April 30th 2018. The issue will be published in January 2019.

We sincerely hope that this information may be of your interest. Please feel free to share this call among your contacts. Thank you in advance.

/L’Atalante. Revista de estudios cinematográficos/
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Acceptance of articles for the section “Notebook”:*from March 15^th to April 30^th *

Classical Hollywood cinema is one of the better-defined periods with regard to style and mode of production. Its greatest achievement was its largely unproblematic conciliation between art and industry and between quality and commercial viability. That was precisely what allowed its world dominance and its conversion, in the cinephile imaginary, into an almost mythical Golden Age, an age that is less and less known and understood by younger generations (even in academia). Even if critics from /Cahiers du Cinéma/ insisted on defining “authors” (specially in the figure of directors) in classical Hollywood, the pictures produced under the studio system were primarily a collective art, made under a strongly specialized and hierarchized organization. That is what makes defining who is responsible of each contribution inside a film such a difficult task.

Classical Hollywood cinema’s style was very uniform and stable in essence, even after all the mutations suffered from the mid-1910s to the end of the 1950s (or even the beginning of the 1960s). Obsessed with the mass influx of people into the theatre so as to obtain the highest profits possible, and focused on the narrative, everything in these films concentrates on two key principles: do not bore the audience, and tell the story in the simplest way possible. Lighting, mise-en-scène, editing, camera movements, sound processing, etc.—everything was designed to serve the narrative structure. That is precisely what has been called transparency: nothing can distract the attention from the most important thing, the story.

But, at the same time, this well-defined and delimited system was less rigid and more flexible than it seemed and than has frequently been asserted. In fact, it always allowed for experimentation in all the elements of the creation of cinema, ever since the silent film era. Let us consider, for example, D. W. Griffith, who contributed to the development and settlement of the language of narrative continuity (what has been defined by Noël Burch as IMR), thanks to innovations that would influence all other national cinemas. Griffith himself would experiment beyond the allowed limits in /Intolerance/ (1916), leading to the public’s rejection and to the financial collapse of the project.

Many of the original solutions of classical Hollywood cinema still surprise us, seeming very modern and fresh even today. These experiments were almost always designed for the narrative structure, adapted to work in its favour. In other cases, though, they were devices that emphasized a certain self-consciousness of film language, including complex artifices. Even in those cases, these examples were deviations within the norm, and never radical departures or real alternatives to the system. That is, (almost) everything was permitted, since everything was perfectly integrated inside Hollywood’s characteristic style, a machine able to devour (in the good sense) all the filmic novelties from other other national cinemas, assimilating them and making them its own without remorse.

Hollywood, while influencing all the film industries in the world, has always paid attention to what was happening in other countries, being very receptive to their contributions, even when they seemed like alternatives to its own system. Hollywood has also tried to hire the most successful international filmmakers, as it happened —with varying results— during the 1920s with Ernst Lubitsch, Victor Sjöström, Mauritz Stiller, F. W. Murnau, E. A. Dupont, Paul Leni, and Jacques Feyder. In addition to this, the European diaspora due to the ascendance of Nazism in Germany made a little town in California the centre in which some of the most privileged minds in the History of Cinema gathered. These foreigners both adapted (with fewer or more difficulties) to the Hollywood mode of production and introduced some of their own ideas about filmmaking; ideas that most of the time were very different from the style of American cinema. As Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson explain (2005 [1985]: 74): “Hollywood has perpetually renewed itself by assimilating techniques from experimental movements”. Thompson (1993: 188) even asserts that “Hollywood could assimilate, among other things, aspects of avant-garde art”. Now, “[t]he question, though, is what principles governed this search for differentiation. What limits were set upon variety?” (Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson, 2005 [1985]: 72).

Considering all this, some of the themes and proposals for this monographic issue are:

·The diversity of experimentalism inside Hollywood’s classicism in any part of the film creation process: the technology, the cinematography (both illumination and the use of colour), the mise-en-scène (from sets to camera movements, including costume design), the editing, the sound, the narrative structure, the visual aspects, the treatment of time, the acting, the conception and development of the star system, etc.

·The influence of the avant-garde and other national cinemas in the innovations made in Hollywood. German cinema from the Weimar Republic and early Soviet cinema were, of course, the most influential, especially in regard to camera movements, editing, and cinematography. Likewise, the impact of Italian Neorealism was decisive in achieving the higher degree of realism demanded by the American audience after WWII. At the same time, the enormous amount of foreign professionals working in Hollywood allowed the studio system to be receptive to other national film industries.

·The controversial role of authorship in the innovations inside of the system. Are these experiments attributable to a few very creative filmmakers or should we take other professionals into account?

·The role of the studios, the producers, and the production team in the experimentation: between freedom and the limits to creativity. Or, better said, who could be creative and to what degree? And, of course, we must not forget that some of the most original innovations in classical Hollywood were due to producers such as Irving Thalberg, Samuel Goldwyn, David O’Selznick, Walt Disney, Walter Wanger, Val Lewton, or Arthur Freed.

·Differences in the experimentation depending on the different decades of classicism. The cinema of the 1930s is not the same as it was in the 1920s, nor is the cinema of the 1940s and 1950s. And yet, they are all part of classical Hollywood cinema. Therefore, we will accept texts that analyse the modes of experimentation in classical cinema during the whole period, but we will primarily value those proposals that focus on the presence of deviations from the norm in the first decades of classicism (including silent cinema), and not only those that resulted from the crisis of the classical model in its last years.

·Experimentalism in silent films and experimentalism in sound films. The possibility of establishing differences between both types.

·Differences in the innovations depending on genre. Are there genres that are more creative than others?

·In relation to the previously mentioned, we encourage the consideration of the possibilities inherent in B-pictures. Sometimes lower budget films were the ones that, due to a less economically risky mode of production, allowed for greater expressive audacity.

·The integration of experiments in the narrative structure of classicism.


Bordwell, D., Staiger, J., Thompson, K. (2005 [1985]). /The Classical Hollywood Cinema. Film Style and Mode of Production until 1960. /London: Routledge

Thompson, K. (1993). The Limits of Experimentation in Hollywood. /Archivos de la Filmoteca/, /14/, 186-201.

/L'Atalante. Revista de estudios cinematográficos /accepts submissions of unpublished essays on topics related to film theory and/or praxis that stand out for their innovative nature. Articles should focus on approaches to the cinematographic fact made preferably from the perspectives of historiography or audiovisual analysis. Those texts that approach novel objects of study with rigorous and well-evidenced methodologies will be appreciated. Articles that take as their main reference the processes of signification through the analysis of the audiovisual form and/or the narratological elements specific to our field, focusing on methodologies specifically related to the treatment of the image will be favoured in the selection process. Although we accept works with other methodologies that approach the filmic fact from transversal perspectives (Cultural Studies, philological approaches, etc.) we consider that the main interest of the journal is located on the studies that take the specifically cinematographic expressive tools as the main elements of discourse. Likewise, texts that are not limited to describing, enumerating or summarizing details of the plot, but that rigorously apply a specific and well-evidenced analysis methodology, reaching particular and novel results, will be given priority.

Below are a few aspects to keep in mind:

·Submissions must be original and must conform to the submission guidelines of the journal <> and to the standards and scientific rigour expected of an academic publication.

·Submissions will be evaluated for the originality of the topic explored, especially if it relates to an issue not previously addressed in the publication. Submissions dealing with topics previously addressed in the journal may be rejected. The content of the issues published to date can be consulted on the journal's website <>.

·All submissions will undergo an external peer review process that will respect the anonymity of both authors and reviewers (double blind peer review) in an effort to prevent any possibility of bias. In the event of a very high number of submissions, the Editorial Board will make a prior selection of the articles to be peer reviewed, choosing the articles deemed the most appropriate for the issue. Failure to observe the submission guidelines and/or standards of originality and academic rigour will result in rejection of the submission by the Editorial Board without external review.

·Authors of accepted submissions will be contacted within six months.

·Articles (which should be between 5,000 and 7,000 words including all sections) must be submitted via the website of the journal as .rtf, .odt or .docx files, using the template provided for the purpose. Files containing the author's statement (.pdf) and any images (.psd, .png, .jpg, .tiff) must be uploaded to the website as complementary files. A detailed version of the submission guidelines can be found at the following link <>. Any articles that fail to meet these requirements will be rejected automatically.

/·/If the /L'Atalante /team decides to publish the “Notebook” section of the present issue in a bilingual edition, authors will be required to provide the translation and cover the costs of translating or proofreading the text (in some cases, this cost may be waived for students and unemployed researchers who provide proof of status).//

·/L'Atalante/ does not offer any compensation for published articles. For more information: (info /at/ <mailto:(info /at/>

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