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[ecrea] CfP Metafiction and Reflexivity in Cinema
Thu Nov 29 11:18:50 GMT 2018
*Metafiction and Reflexivity in Cinema*
*November 14-15, 2019
Université Clermont Auvergne / Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès
CELIS / CHEC / CAS
*Reflexivity in art is not a practice that is specific to the postmodern
period, as a number of critics have noted. Robert Stam reminds us that
Homer often designates his own enunciation as one of the topics of his
text. We find similar examples of self-reference concerning the writer
or the creative process in the writings of Lawrence Sterne, long before
the reflexive strain that characterized authors from the second half of
the 20th C (William Gass, Vladimir Nabokov or John Fowles among others).
Likewise, cinematographic reflexivity does not appear circumscribed by a
period beginning after 1950. As soon as the silent era,
self-consciousness in the medium is manifest: the cameraman in The Big
Swallow (James Williamson, 1901) engulfed by the camera eye testifies to
this phenomenon, just like, in a different context, Sherlock Junior
(Buster Keaton, 1924), which uses various innovative devices to stage
the adventures of a projectionist who falls asleep during a show and
dreams that he is acting as a great detective. The same reflexive slant
is visible in documentaries or in experimental films like The Man with a
Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929) or Chronicle of a Summer (Jean Rouch,
Edgar Morin, 1961) where the filmmakers appear several times on screen
while they are shooting the film itself—see Bill Nichols’s (2001)
category of “reflexive documentary.” Because reflexivity is such a
widespread phenomenon, its motivations and forms beg to be considered
A first step in this process is to distinguish metafiction from
reflexivity. In the wake of Robert Stam’s analysis (p. 159), reflexivity
can be considered as the use of devices meant to draw the reader’s or
spectator’s attention to the fictional and/or artificial quality of
representation. Reflexivity may also be found in works that reveal what
goes on behind the scenes of cinematographic creation. By contrast,
metafiction—as it was defined by Patricia Waugh—implies the production
of a critical discourse on a text or a film as a work of fiction, and a
critical discourse on the medium itself, whether it is film or
literature. Metafiction thus refers to a more elaborate practice than
reflexivity, which can be limited to self-referential games around
fiction or to artificial devices, without opening onto larger questions
bearing on the medium itself and on the question of fictionality in the
work itself (or, sometimes, in just any work of fiction). Secondly, we
must note that the metafictional or reflexive quality of a work appears
differently in literature and in cinema. In literature, it can take the
form of a discourse on the text—or on writing in general—and be
inscribed within the text itself. This calls to mind texts which include
writers commenting on their own works, but also texts dealing with
literary influences on the fictional diegesis (such as Madame Bovary and
Don Quixote). The transposition of a metafictional discourse is often
more difficult in the cinematographic medium because the representation
of the cinematic technical apparatus is less realistically integrated in
a fiction film than in writing, which may use cases of interpretation
within the diegesis to justify reflexive episodes. Films staging
directors—such as Day for Night (François Truffaut, 1973), 8 ½ (Federico
Fellini, 1963) and Living in Oblivion (Tom DiCillo, 1995)—resort to
stories focused on the shooting of a film and not only on the influence
of fiction within fiction, as this may be the case in literary
metafictional works. This statement can be qualified by the fact that
many films evince their reflexivity through isolated citations of other
films or audiovisual materials, for instance through the insertion of an
autonomous sequence, distinct from the first narrative level, and that
acts as a reference. Yet, in this case, such citations are in themselves
no guarantee of a metafictional perspective developed in the films,
since this perspective requires theoretical and topical distance towards
the medium. More largely, the overlapping of narrative boundaries—which
Gérard Genette calls metalepses—may function differently from one medium
to another; it can consist in the passage from one narrative to another
(as with the play within the play in Hamlet) meant to signify an
interaction between the initial diegesis and the metafictional text, but
in cinema this passage needs to be motivated in the story; this occurs
in The Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen, 1985) when two narrative
levels encroach upon one another. Yet again these metalepses may appear
artificial in cinema due to the uneasy diegetic justification, in a
realistic frame, of this interaction between narrative levels, whereas
literary texts may integrate references to other literary discourses
more unobtrusively and with less constraint as regards the devices used.
Attention should be paid, of course, not only to the forms of
reflexivity and metafiction in film, but also to its aims. Although the
term “metafiction” seems to have become a common idiom in contemporary
fan culture (through the use of the prefix “meta”), what is at stake in
this issue is diversely regarded, especially if we consider recent
filmic productions. It may be conceived of as a distancing device
serving to detach the viewer from imaginary identification (as in Stam’s
argument, which adopts a Brechtian perspective), or a way to exploit
avant-garde innovations in commercial form, notably in Hollywood
productions. The striking changes visible in these practices, starting
from the first full-length studies focused on the topic in literature
(notably by Linda Hutcheon and Patricia Waugh), namely the fact that
reflexivity seems to have spread beyond the limited circle of auteur
cinema, also suggests that the reception of these devices in mainstream
cinema was influenced by a more general evolution of forms and practices
in the medium itself. Filmic self-reference may be more relevant today,
due to the diversity of modes of consumption and perception of
films—visible through the popularity of series, the use of VOD and
streaming, or the production of films direct to internet. This may also
point to a change in the ontology of film, through the increase in CGI
and online viewing. This situation makes it all the more necessary to
question the very nature of cinema and the potential end of cinema
(Gaudreault and Marion), through this reflexive and metafictional
discourse. This discourse thus contextually points to an interest in the
redefinition of the medium itself, but also to a redefinition of the
spectator’s role in the cinematic apparatus.
These avenues eventually suggest a possible link with a poetics of
cinema, as explored by Christian Metz. The specific way reflexivity
manifests itself in cinema can thus be related to some features in film
aesthetics determined by a form of reflexivity at work in the medium
itself and thus beyond the narrative discourse, as Christian Metz
suggested in Impersonal enunciation or the site of film.
This conference thus invites talks on the following topics:
* The evolution of reflexive and/or metafictional devices in the history
of cinema, notably in relation to technological (r)evolutions (sound,
Internet, digital, etc.)
* The labeling and conceptual differences between reflexivity,
metafiction, metafilm, metacinema, frame narratives
* The role of reflexivity and/or metafiction in defining an artist’s
aesthetic identity, and thus in her/his poetics
* The reception of reflexive devices or metafictional discourses
* The narrative and structural outcome of reflexive or metafictional
strategies in a given work
* The specificity of reflexive devices according to cinematic forms
(feature films or short films), modes (documentaries, fictions,
experimental cinema) or genres (slapstick, film noir, melodrama, social
drama, epics, romances, etc.)
* The practices, techniques and implementation of metafiction in cinema
* The emergence of metafiction determined by a cultural context
We shall have the pleasure to welcome Dr. Daniel Yacavone, from the
University of Edinburgh, who will be our keynote speaker
The conference will take place at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in
Clermont Ferrand, central France. Registration fees are 40 euros for
lecturers, professors or independent scholars and 20 euros for students.
Accommodation will be provided freely for the participants by the
research centres. The conference organizers will welcome proposals from
confirmed scholars as well as from doctoral students. A publication of
peer-reviewed texts will be proposed by the organizers. Proposals should
include a 300-word abstract with a bibliography and a short biography.
Thank you for sending your proposals to all three following addresses by
1st April 2019: (Caroline.Lardy /at/ uca.fr) <mailto:(Caroline.Lardy /at/ uca.fr)>,
(Christophe.Gelly /at/ uca.fr) <mailto:(Christophe.Gelly /at/ uca.fr)>,
(mudrockca /at/ gmail.com) <mailto:(mudrockca /at/ gmail.com)>
Julien Achemchame (Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier)
Zachary Baqué (Université Jean Jaurès, Toulouse)
Alain Boillat (Université de Lausanne)
Fatima Chinita (Lisbon Polytechnic Institute)
Robert von Dassanowsky (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs)
Sarah Hatchuel (Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier)
Sébastien Lefait (Université Paris 8)
Shannon Wells-Lassagne (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon)
ALTER, Robert, Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-conscious Genre,
Berkeley : University of California Press, 1975.
BOILLAT, Alain, “Stranger than Fiction : Métalepse de Genette et
quelques univers filmiques contemporaines,” Cinéma & Cie, vol XII, no.
18 (Spring 2012): 21-31.
BOYD, Michael, The Reflexive Novel: Fiction as Critique, London:
Associated Presses, 1983.
CERISUELO Marc, Hollywood à l’Ecran, Essai de poétique historique des
films : l’exemple des métafilms américains, Paris, éd. des Presses de la
Sorbonne Nouvelle, coll. « L’œil vivant », Paris, Presses de la
Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2001
DÄLLENBACH, Lucien, « Mise en abyme », Dictionnaire des genres et des
notions littéraires, Paris, Encyclopedia. Universalis et Albin Michel, 1997.
DÄLLENBACH, Lucien, Le récit spéculaire. Essai sur la mise en abyme,
Paris, éd. du Seuil, coll. « Poétique », 1977.
DIKA, Vera (2003). Recycled Culture in Con- temporary Art and Film.
Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
FÉVRY, Sébastien, La mise en abyme filmique. Essai de typologie, Liège,
éd. de fournitures et d'aides pour la lecture, coll. « Grand écran,
petit écran. Essais », 2000.
FREDERICKSEN, Don (1979). Modes of Reflexive Film. Quarterly review of
film studies, 4(3), 299-320.
GAUDREAULT André et Philippe MARION, La Fin du Cinéma ? Un média en
crise à l’ère du numérique, Paris, Armand Colin, 2013.
GENETTE, Gérard, Métalepse, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. « Poétique », 2004.
GENETTE, Gérard, Palimpsestes : la littérature au second degré, Paris :
Seuil, Essais, 1982.
GERSTENKORN, Jacques, « À travers le miroir, (notes introductives) »,
Vertigo, n° 1, Le cinéma au miroir, Paris, 1987.
HUTCHEON, Linda, Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox, New
York & London : Methuen, 1984.
JOURNOT, Marie-Thérèse, Le Vocabulaire du cinéma, (sous la dir. de
Michel Marie), Paris, éd. Nathan Université, coll. « 128 », 2003.
LIMOGES, Jean-Marc (2008). Mise en abyme et réflexivité dans le cinéma
contemporain: Pour une distinction de termes trop sou- vent confondus.
Les Actes de la Sesdef (La Société des études supérieures du Département
d ́Études françaises de l ́Université de Toronto).
METZ, Christian, L’énonciation impersonnelle ou le site du film, Paris,
éd. Méridiens Klincksieck, 1991.
MOUREN, Yannick, Filmer la création cinématographique : Le film-art
poétique, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2009.
NICHOLS, Bill, Introduction to Documentary 3rd edition. Bloomington:
Indiana UP, 2017 .
ROCHE, David, Quentin Tarantino: Poetics and Politics of Cinematic
Metafiction. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2018. 352 p.
ROSE, Margaret A., Parody/Metafiction : An Analysis of Parody as a
Critical Mirror to the Writing and Reception of Fiction, London : Croom
SIEGLE, Robert, The Politics of Reflexivity, Baltimore & London : Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1986.
STAM, Robert, Reflexivity in Film and Literature : from Don Quixote to
Jean-Luc Godard, Michigan, UMI Research Press, coll. « Studies in cinema
TAKEDA, Kiyoshi, « Le cinéma auto-réflexif : quelques problèmes
méthodologiques », Iconics, The Japan Society of Image Art ans Sciences,
WAUGH, Patricia, Metafiction : The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious
Fiction, London & New York : Routledge, New Accents, 1985.
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