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Beginnings & Endings Conference

Beginnings and Endings in Films, Film and Film Studies
One-day conference, 13th June 2008, University of Warwick


"Men, like poets, rush 'into the middest,'
in media res, when they are born; they also die in mediis rebus, and to make sense of their span they need fictive concords with origins and ends, such as give meanings to lives and to poems." Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending (1966)

The increasing prevalence of digital technologies within cinema over the last two decades has caused some film scholars to think of the history of film as a complete movement – a period with a beginning and an end. Whether or not one agrees with such a conception, its very existence testifies to the importance we place on beginnings and endings as a means of conferring shape and significance upon subjects of enquiry.

This one-day conference is dedicated to investigating the various notions of ‘beginning’ and ‘ending’ encountered by film scholars in the diverse areas with which they are engaged – in individual films, in film as a medium, and in film studies. Whether addressing observable beginnings or ends (e.g.: of particular films, of filmic technologies, etc.), or those assigned retrospectively (e.g.: of periods, of theories, etc.), speakers will be engaging with the central question of what examining beginning and/or end-points can profitably teach us. Over ten years since David Bordwell and Noel Carroll’s Post Theory (1996) pronounced the death of ‘Grand Theory’, which accompanied the formation of film studies, this conference will also implicitly ask what new ‘beginnings’ followed, should follow, or are now following, this particular ‘ending’.

This framework potentially allows for the bringing together of work being carried out in the fields of film narrative, narration, cognitivism, aesthetics, genre, technology, and history – among others.