The study of classical Hollywood cinema, defined by the body of films produced by American motion picture studios between 1917 and 1960 (the “studio era”), was the central preoccupation of Film Studies when the discipline emerged as an area of serious academic inquiry in the 1960s. After decades during which Film Studies proliferated and generated numerous subfields, the study of classical Hollywood cinema in recent years has undergone expansive growth and critical reassessment, influenced by the emergence of new methodologies, technological resources, and archival discoveries that have brought to light largely forgotten histories of the studio era, from its African-American audiences to its women screenwriters to its independent productions. Not only do these new modes and subjects of analysis offer a critical reassessment of classical Hollywood film, but they also have a profound relevance to current cultural and political efforts to articulate the role of cinema in shaping societal norms.
Bringing together 39 presenters from Canada, USA, Europe, and Australia, the Classical Hollywood Studies in the 21st Century conference at Wilfrid Laurier University (May 10-13, 2018) will provide a forum for leading and emerging scholars Film Studies to share new ideas, research, methods and approaches to studying a mode of cinema that exerted unparalleled influence on contemporary and global filmmaking. To broaden the impact and reach of this event, the conference has partnered with leading organizations such as Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Waterloo’s Princess Cinemas, and Kitchener’s Apollo Cinema.
Through the presentation of academic papers and a roundtable discussion of knowledge mobilization, conference participants will explore where academic inquiry on classical Hollywood cinema has gone, where it is now, and – most importantly – where it is going. A rich plan for mobilizing this research to both academic and general audiences includes the following:
1) The publication of conference papers as an edited book collection;
2) The publication of video recordings of key proceedings on the conference website, accessible to the general public;
3) A public lecture held in Fall 2018 to highlight key findings from conference;
4) A proposal for a workshop or panel at the 2019 Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference to disseminate key conference findings.
The research mobilized in this global conference program comes at a critical moment in Film Studies. New resources such as the Media History Digital Library and networks such as the Classical Hollywood Scholarly Interest Group of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies have opened innovative avenues for scholars to engage with new methods, to forge interdisciplinary connections, and to explore archives for new materials and data. The conference will provide the first focused forum within which such cutting-edge scholarship will be shared, advanced and disseminated more broadly to Film Studies scholars and students as well as to the cine-literate public – and it will do so in Canada. In bringing together this international program of experts, the conference will lay the groundwork for a Canada-led research network dedicated not only to mobilizing research but also to establishing collaborative relationships designed to break new ground in film studies, history, sociology, and fine arts.