Professor Will Straw visits the Department of English and Film Studies

During Dr Straw's visit to the U of A, he will be giving a talk on September 13 and will conduct a graduate seminar on September 14.

11 September 2012

Dr. Straw is Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. He is also Professor within the Department of Art History and Communications Studies at McGill University. He is the author of Cyanide and Sin: Visualizing Crime in 50s America, and the co-editor of Circulation and the City: Essays on Urban Culture (2010), Aprehendiendo al delincuente: Crimen y medios en América del norte (2011), and the Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock (2001). Dr. Straw is the author of over 100 articles on urban culture, cinema, music and media.

During his visit to the U of A, he will be giving a talk on Sep 13 and will conduct a graduate seminar on September 14.

Thursday Sep 13: HC L-3 3:30-5:00 Lecture: "Urban Citizenship and the Culture of Night"

The historian Craig Koslovsky has written recently of the "nocturnalization" of the West over several centuries. By "nocturnalization," Koslovsky refers to "the ongoing expansion of the legitimate social and symbolic uses of the night." This nocturnalization has produced what French geographer Luc Wgiazdzinsk calls a « variable citizenship » within urban life, as urban dwellers come to use and occupy cities during different parts of the 24-hour cycle and confront distinct regimes of legitimacy and support. This talk will examine the ways in which a range of cities have worked to redefine the culture of night, in Canada and elsewhere, and the cultural practices which have emerged as part of this redefinition.

Friday Sep 14: HC 3-86: 11:00-1:00 Graduate Seminar : "Social Texture and the Audiovisual Extra."

This seminar will look at the status of crowds, extras and secondary characters in producing a sense of social texture within films and other audiovisual texts. In key movements within film history, such as post-war Neorealisms and the French New Wave, the professional extra came to be condemned as the residue of a falsifying professionalism which would be remedied by the recourse to "real" people populating the backgrounds of scenes. More recently, as in a 2009 exhibition at the Argos Centre in Brussels, or in Mark Lewis art-world film The Pitch (1998), the film extra has been seen as emblematic of the conditions of labour in late capitalist society. This seminar will trace a variety of ways in which we may think of the film extra as formal element within film design, as a form of labour, and as an aesthetic "problem" confronting filmmakers at particular moments of transition in film history.

Students interested in participating in this seminar should register in advance by sending an email to Kris Calhoun or Elena Del Rio. Seminar participants should also download the attached article in preparation for the discussion.

I hope many of you will be able to take advantage of Professor Straw's visit.