Visual Pleasure(s): The Act of Looking in Critical Cultures
GLITS presents... "Visual Pleasure(s)"
Plenary: Professor Laura Mulvey (Birkbeck, University of London)
* Richard Hoggart Building, RHB 342
Following the screening of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s groundbreaking avant-garde classic film ‘Riddles of the Sphinx’ , introduced by Mulvey, and held at Curzon Goldsmiths in September, this year's annual GLITS symposium, 'Visual Pleasure(s): Acts of Looking in Critical Cultures,’ will employ Mulvey’s filmwork and criticism as a springboard for further inquiry. ‘Visual Pleasure(s),’ which will take place on December 16th, 2016, represents a continued interest in the cinematic and critical works of Laura Mulvey and their application: this symposium seeks interdisciplinary responses to her work, its legacy, and expansive reflection on the character of cultural criticism.
Papers will explore the ways in which the political “act of looking” in Laura Mulvey’s writing and its legacies can be extended to a broader discussion of narrative and critical cultures in contemporary society. Whether we are exploring the nature of academic discourse and authorial identity, the function of autobiography and confession in contemporary literary culture, or the determinacy of canon and the anxiety of influence, the conflict between active and passive renditions of criticism relative to the force of narrative can be everywhere encountered. Mulvey’s work amplifies such collisions and, given her interest in the power of entertainment technologies, she offers an insight that is as relevant today as it was to the development of film criticism from the 1970s onwards. When we consider the role of culture in contemporary society, similar concerns plague the author and the academic—apprehensions about gazing backwards rather than broaching new territory, or the anxiety of influence as inveighing on original perspective proves to problematize conceptions of originality, authenticity and creativity in contemporary critical and creative practices. Often, the attempt to wring originality from existing traditions results in the inescapable realisation that critical work is contingent on second hand material. Conversely, criticism resumes to be perceived as a creative action that is unique to the personality engaging with the object of their attention. In this conference, we aim to encourage reflections upon the significance (and definition) of ‘originality’ and authorship in film, literature, and criticism. This approach ought to cast the role of the critic in renewed light, resulting in a reassessment of the standing that film and literary criticism dons in present-day narrative cultures.
This conflict is crucial to our self-definition in the academy—we let our interests define us, to then be defined by our interests, readily identify personality with product, and professionalize an engagement with culture. Scholarly response is either a product of its source or a procreant and provocative exercise that reclaims, reframes, and unsettles tradition. These polarised views of the critic are central to the work of Laura Mulvey in her exploration of active and passive manifestations of critical observation in cinema. In her canonical essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ (1975), Mulvey explores the segregation of the director and their audience – the cinema and its spectator – to underscore the manner in which representation on and off the screen is determined by an intermingling of social and personal pressures that, in turn, mould our reading of the text.
The symposium will be comprised of 7 x 20 minute presentations on subjects including:
Academic culture, authorship and authorial or critical identity • Film, and the evolution of film criticism in the twenty-first century • Creative responses to film and literature (for example, adaptation, commentary, or novelization) • Realism, authenticity and originality in literature, cinema and popular culture • Documentary as intervention versus creativity as intervention
Olivia Griffiths - Escaping the male gaze: Self-exposure as Revolutionary Act in Maggie Nelson and Chris Krauss; Leo Robson - Revising the Visual: Mulvey's Evolving Spectator; Azmina Abdulla - No woman’s land: Jane B. par Agnès V.; Pauline Nottingham - The Male Glaze: Phenomenology and the Feeling Real; Tallulah Harvey - Textual Pleasure: Seductive Narratives and Female Desire in the Postmodern Text; David Cross - Beyond the Simulation Principle: Perceptions of Masculinity and Consumerism in John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ and JG Ballard’s ‘The Subliminal Man;' Oliver Fuke - 'Laura Mulvey &'*
* Following his curation of the film season - Beyond the Scorched Earth of Counter-Cinema - a retrospective of the film-works of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen held at The Whitechapel Gallery, London, and at the Tisch School of Art/NYU (in collaboration with The Colloquium for Unpopular Culture), New York, Fuke's paper will introduce a screening of two rarely shown filmworks by Laura Mulvey:
Frida Kahlo & Tina Modotti  Dir. Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen (30 Minutes)
A documentary about the lives and work of painter Frida Kahlo and photographer Tina Modotti, divided into sections: History; Popular Life and Culture; Roots and Movements; Biography; Inward/Outward; The Body; Injury/Beauty. Also included is a home movie of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at their 'Blue House' in Coyoacan, and Tina Modotti in the 1919 Hollywood film, The Tigers Coat.
23rd August, 2008  Dir. Laura Mulvey, Mark Lewis (22 Minutes)
23 August 2008 consists of two shots. A brief opening shot, intercut with inter-titles, of the famous Al Mutanabbi Street book market in Baghdad is followed by an unbroken eighteen-minute monologue, shot from a single, still camera position and simply recording the speaker’s words without interruption. In it, Faysal gradually builds a portrait of his relationship with his younger brother, Kamel, and, in the process, evokes the lives of Iraqi intellectuals of the left, driven into exile in the early 1980s by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Faysal describes Kamel’s decision to return to Iraq in 2003, his work for the new Ministry of Culture and his tragic death at the hands of unknown assassins on 23 August 2008. While the film throws light on little known aspects of Iraq’s political history, primarily it is the story of the two brothers, of Faysal’s devotion to Kamel and their contrasting attitudes to exile and to life itself.
Full programme and schedule to be announced shortly
Please address any inquiries to Dominic Jaeckle - email@example.com