Media landscapes are far from being homogeneous. Media diverge not only because they perform diverse functions and elicit different practices, but also because they recall distinct stages in the media history. We deal with a number of “obsolete” media that nevertheless we still find useful and friendly—and whose ultimate destiny will be either to be discharged in a dump, or to be located in a museum. But how does the past speak to the present? The talk will challenge the idea of memory and illustrate its role in our cultural practices. It will do that through a radical re-reading of few “primeval scenes” that are often recalled by film theory when it focuses on the origins of screens and screened images: the myth of Perseus and the Gorgon, the legend of Boutades’ daughter and the origin of portraiture, the chronicle of Brunelleschi’s invention of perspective. This re-reading of a number of well-known episodes will hopefully help to retrace the main operations that we perform when we “adapt” old media to new assemblages. Casetti will draw some final and critical considerations about the concepts of “propensity” and “disposition” often used to explain media evolution.
The lecture is part of the current ICI Lecture Series ERRANS, in Time. Ideas of physical, social, revolutionary time, internal time consciousness, or historical experience are far from settled in their respective discourses and practices. Yet attempts to harmonize or correlate the understanding of time and temporal phenomena generated in different disciplines all-too quickly resort to normative, if not teleological ideas of progress, efficiency, or experiential plenitude. Can the heterogenous relations between discordant conceptions of time and temporality be understood as being ‘erratically’ structured, that is, as marked by inherent misapprehensions, a dissonance that defies regulation, and an unexpected variability?
More videos and pictures on the ICI website.
One of the Young Turks of semiotic film theory in the 1970s, counting Umberto Eco and Christian Metz among his mentors, Francesco Casetti established himself as a major figure in the field of film studies in Italy, and his synoptic overview of the discipline’s theoretical lineage, Theories of Cinema, 1945-1990, is still a crucial reference work. Since 2010, he has been the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of Humanities and Film & Media Studies at Yale University. In recent years, his research interests have taken him away from the semiotic tradition, and towards a critical evaluation of contemporary trends in media technologies, as seen in his latest monograph The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come. He is currently working on the iconophobic tradition in western culture and its relation to anxieties aroused by technological changes in contemporary media, and recently co-edited the anthology Early Film Theories in Italy 1896-1922.
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DF: I’d like to talk about the state of the field, but also the way that the state of the field reflects the state of the world. Do you think that a lot of the anxiety around our object of study in the last 10-20 years is a reflection of a deeper political uncertainty?
FC: There is a great deal of rhetoric around the idea that digital revolution implies the death of cinema and ultimately the death of film studies. When I look at what is happening in our field, my feeling is that the field is expanding. There is always a new object available. So, the risk is not that our object is getting lost. The risk, on the contrary, is that the different objects in the field are becoming more and more insular. It is increasingly difficult to conceive cinema in its entirety and film studies as an all-embracing approach: the dialogue between the different branches often appears impossible. I think this situation reflects a twofold aspect. On the one hand, it echoes the tendency of the contemporary world not towards globalisation, but towards fragmentation and isolation. On the other hand, it echoes the triumph of neoliberal ideology, in which you are said to be able to choose the commodities and lifestyles you want. Let’s be frank: our field, today, is a great marketplace in which everybody can find the department store that better fits his or her alleged needs; what is scarce, is the willingness to cope with a comprehensive approach – to challenge, through a transversal look, the intricate network that keeps together our landscape in its different aspects. It’s post-theory… I am not complaining. I am just underlining the distance from the years of my intellectual formation in Paris and Italy, in which the desire to find a rigorous approach to film language was paired with the dream (naïve, but not stupid as Bordwell and Carrol have depicted it) to keep language and social, economic, and psychological processes together.
Read full interview by Daniel Fairfax on senses of cinema.
How Italian writers, scholars, clergymen, psychologists, members of parliament and philosophers reacted to the advent of cinema? How they established a common language to discuss an invention that exceeded habits and expectations, and that transcended existing forms and categories of thought? This anthology for the first time gathers a large number of social discourses that in Italy tried to define and contextualize cinema from the 1890s to 1920s. What results is an impressive picture of a culture at distress with a “scandalous” event and eager to appropriate it for the sake of modernization.
Early Film Theories in Italy, 1896-1922
edited by Francesco Casetti with Silvio Alovisio and Luca Mazzei
Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam 2017
Table of contents and Introduction
In conversation: Francesco Casetti on a new era in cinema
YaleNews, April 7, 2016
Francesco Casetti, winner of the Limina Prize for Best International Film Studies Book. (Photo by Laila Pozzo)
Francesco Casetti, chair of the Film and Media Studies Program, recently received one of the most prestigious European awards in film and media studies — the XIV annual Limina Prize for Best International Film Studies Book.
Casetti, who is also the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of Humanities and professor of film studies, was honored with the award for his 2015 book, “The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come.” The prize is given by the editorial board of Cinéma & Cie. International Film Studies Journal, which includes 50 world-renowned film and media scholars.
Casetti recently met with YaleNews to talk about the impetus for his book, the new emerging era in cinema aesthetics, and why the Yale scholar believes it is important to have “novel insights into ideas in the present that were fed by the past.”
What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Read the conversation
Udine, 18 February 2016 – FilmForum Udine-Gorizia in association with CUC – Consulta Universitaria del Cinema and Cinéma&Cie – International Film Studies Journal are pleased to announce the winner of the Best International Film Studies Book section of the fourteenth annual Limina Prize: The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come by Francesco Casetti (Columbia University Press, 2015).
This volume argues that in the age of convergence, when the various media have tended to mutate and merge, not only has cinema survived but in fact it is flourishing once again. We find cinema in theaters, but also in our houses, in galleries and museums, on modes of transportation or in waiting rooms, on our mobile devices and online. The Seven Key Words proposed by the author help us to comprehend the ways in which cinema has opened up to new horizons, while nonetheless keeping its own distinct identity.
The Prize for Best International Film Studies Book is awarded by Editorial Board of the prestigious academic journal Cinéma & Cie. International Film Studies Journal, which is composed of world-renown international film and media scholars.
The prize-giving ceremony took place in Gorizia at FilmForum 2016, the XXIII Udine International Film Studies Conference/XIV MAGIS International Film Studies Spring School.
Conferimento Dottorato Honoris Causa a Francesco Casetti
16 marzo 2016 Teatro Auditorium – Campus di Arcavacata (CS)
Il Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici dell’Università della Calabria conferisce il Dottorato internazionale di studi umanistici honoris causa a Francesco Casetti (Yale University), studioso di cinema e di media audiovisivi, dei quali ha indagato principalmente le teorie, le strategie di comunicazione e l’impatto sociale.
Casetti, dopo l’esperienza in diversi atenei italiani (Università di Genova, di Trieste) è stato per molti anni professore ordinario di cinema alla Cattolica di Milano (dove è stato anche Prorettore e ha diretto il Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione e dello Spettacolo), prima di approdare (dopo esperienze a Berkeley, Paris III, University of Iowa) come professore ordinario all’Università di Yale. Di recente ha insegnato anche ad Harvard. È stato anche per diversi anni Presidente della Consulta Universitaria del Cinema. Tra le sue ultime pubblicazioni ricordiamo: “La Galassia Lumière. Sette parole chiave per il cinema che viene” (2015), “L’occhio del Novecento. Cinema, esperienza, modernità” (2005), “Teorie del cinema. 1945-1990” (1993). Nei suoi testi sul cinema ha studiato, in particolare, i problemi riguardanti la teoria, i prodotti di genere, e i rapporti tra produzione e discorso critico. Più di recente, ha indirizzato la sua ricerca sulle modalità in cui il cinema ha elaborato uno sguardo capace di porsi quale emblema dell’esperienza moderna, e insieme sulle modalità in cui questo sguardo sta mutando con l’avanzare della cosiddetta post-modernità. Le sue analisi collegano strettamente processi comunicativi e processi sociali, con una costante attenzione a questioni quali le nuove forme di cittadinanza, fiducia, soggettività.
L’omaggio a Francesco Casetti prevede un ricco programma, che partirà alle ore 10:30 di mercoledì 16 marzo, con il conferimento del Dottorato e proseguirà, nel pomeriggio, con una giornata di studi che vedrà coinvolti, oltre ai docenti di cinema e teatro dell’Unical, anche alcuni dei principali studiosi di cinema provenienti da diverse università italiane.
Diretta web streaming: https://www.youtube.com/user/impressionimeridiane/live
«Contemporary cinema’s uncertain identity is the starting point of The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Keywords for the Cinema to Come (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) by Francesco Casetti. By telling two anecdotes, Casetti introduces the reader to basic but paramount questions, echoing André Bazin’s pivotal query: what, when, and where is cinema today? Or, in a more encompassing way: how is cinema today, as Casetti pays great attention to cinematic practices rather than essentialist surveys…».
Read Francesco Pitassio’s review on NECSUS. European Journal on Media Studies