As their titles suggest, the essays in this special issue of Film & History examine not just “love” but the many disturbances—institutional exploitation, psychological violence, domestic peril, racial lust—attending it. Love is patient and kind only rarely in film and television, perhaps only rarely in life; it is frequently obsessive or sentimental or insidious. Love is fraught with ugly impulses. Art has always warned us of such. For idealists, of course, these sordid manifestations might not qualify as “love” in the first place, but restricting them from our definition leaves us with either crude tautology (only ideal love is real love) or infinite regress (love is not obsession, not sentimentality, not insidiousness…). The point of studying love in a principled way is to recognize the complexity of its presence.
Understanding how love operates in the world of art, which exerts both social and generic constraints on our emotions, also helps us see how a larger, often unexamined set of desires or habits or anxieties can sneak in to our lives to magnify, distort, or even dissolve our most powerful emotions. Moreover, because a topos such as love acquires structure once it is developed by a narrative art, these essays helps us see how love evolves—or fails to.
The 2012 Film & History Conference (Sept. 26–30, 2012, Hyatt Regency, Milwaukee, USA) will examine the power of myth in film, television, and the other moving-image arts. As a collective pattern, myth transcends the individual, yet it provides structure to our most personal feelings and assumptions. It can be subtle or obvious, shallow or complex. It can move nations to attack each other—or to reconcile. It can induce affection or ridicule or longing. Myth operates somewhere between the waking consciousness of history and the drowsy consciousness of mystery. Often it is both narrative and meta-narrative, trying to tell us what we know and how we might know it. And film is the most vibrant stage of mythmaking today. How do films exploit or succumb to particular myths? Why do audiences embrace one mythic pattern over another—in romance or tragedy or comedy? Who or what controls mythmaking in film and television? How do some historical characters or events move from legend to myth? What historical mutations have myths undergone in film? What myths loom on our horizon?
Film & History invites proposals from prospective area chairs, panel chairs, and individual presenters:
Send a brief description of your area (100–200 words) to email@example.com by December 15, 2011. (An “area” consists of multiple related panels.)
Send a brief description of your panel/paper (100–200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2012. (Panel proposals must include abstracts for each paper.)
Each panel will consist of three presenters. A Blu-ray/DVD player (for Region 1 discs) and a 50” plasma TV/monitor, with VGA-DVI+audio/HDMI hookups for the presenter’s laptop (which should be configured to use the external video port), will be available in each conference room.
The complimentary banquet will be held on Saturday evening, Sept. 29, 2012. [End Page 5]