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Yale Film and Media Studies / Cinemania: Madness and the Moving Image

  • Whitney Humanities Center 53 Wall St, New Haven, Connecticut 06510 (map)

The Yale Film and Media Studies Program is proud to present its 2016 Graduate Conference…Cinemania: Madness and the Moving Image.

Born from the spectacular, supernatural, and neurological preoccupations of the nineteenth century, the frenetic images of the cinematic apparatus reportedly induced a flurry of hysterical episodes, epileptic fits, murders, trances and nervous breakdowns as the new technology made its way from the city to the countryside, from the music hall to the movie theaters, from the mouth of the machine to the minds of the masses.

Psychoanalytic scholars found in film a portal to the unconscious and cultural theorists diagnosed the screen as a symptom of a disordered modern sensorium.

From their Victorian origins to their contemporary digital dissolution, moving images have been associated with madness, launching their makers, characters, and consumers into the sensuous slippage between fantasy and reality.

For this conference, we wish to address a series of questions: What is it about the moving image that makes it a perennial site and stimulus for madness? How have our cultural conceptions of madness been inflected by its representation on the screen and manifestation in the medium? What do we make of the range of registers to be found in cinemania, from the heights of carnivalesque camp to the dark recesses of the surveillance state, the fraught family unit, and the schizoid spectator?


9am-10:30am Women on the Verge
Jennifer Zale(Indiana University),“Female Hysteria in Giselle & the Pre-revolutionary Russian Dance Film: Bolshoi Ballerina Vera Karalli in Chrysanthemums”
Isabel Ortiz(Yale University),“Rabid Starlets: Prosthetics and Violence in Guy Maddin’s Saddest Music in the World”
Jasper Lauderdale(NYU),“Refusing the language of the father: female silence as feminist resistance”

10:45am-12:15am Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder 
Yiyang Hou(Princeton University),“Madness, Pseudoscience and Historical Trauma in Chinese Cinema of the 1980s”
Elias Kleinbock(Princeton University), “On Making a Mad World: Kusturica, Ryazanov, and the Shattered Psyches of Post-Soviet Cinema”
Becky Bae(Harvard University), “The Flowers in Her Hair: The ‘Crazy Girl’ Motif in Cinematic Representations of Trauma”

Lunch Break

1:30pm-3pm Guns, TVs & Typewriters: Mechanical Madness
Lilia Kilburn(MIT), “Blow Guns: Escapist Erotics in Genet’s Un Chant d’Amour and Korine’s Spring Breakers”
Palmer Rampell(Yale University), “All Work and No Play: The Shining and the Vanishing Middle Class”
Andrew Vielkind(Yale University), “In-Formation Feedback: Stan Brakhage’s Hypnagogic Vision of the Vietnam War”

3:15pm – 4:45pm Madness in the Cut: Montage, Suture, and Sculpture in Time
Michael James Harrington(Princeton University), “A Madness in the Streets: Cinematic Dialectics Beyond the Montage in Masao Adachi’s A.K.A. Serial Killer”
Daniel Fairfax(Yale University), “The Mysterious Case of Jean-Pierre Oudart”
Danya Epstein(Southern Methodist University), “Funny Face: Messerschmidt and the Aesthetics of Time”

5:00pm Closing Remarks: Professor Francesco Casetti, Yale University

Open to: General public

Admission: Free
Sponsor: This program is made possible by the generous support of the Yale Film Study Center, Films at the Whitney, the Yale Film & Media Studies Program, the Whitney Humanities Center, the Dean’s Fund for Student Colloquia, the History of Art Department, and the Department of English Literature.
Contact Information: Whitney Humanities Center, 203-432-0670

Later Event: February 20
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