CFP: Film and Science Visions of Science and Technology in Film Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal First-Round Deadline: June 1, 2009
Following the success of the 2008 international conference on “Film & Science: Fictions, Documentaries, and Beyond,” Film & History invites article-length submissions for a special two-issue volume on Film and Science, scheduled for publication in 2010.
The volume will examine how film and television treat the theories, discoveries, motives, goals, and fears—collective or individual—that drive science. What visions of the world or of oneself propel the “science” in film? Where do those visions come from? How does film, as an aesthetic and social medium, influence the conception of science itself? This special volume will also examine how film and television treat the material or cultural results of scientific innovation, experimentation, and exploration. What are the consequences—according to film—of living with cars, computers, high-tech surveillance, and pre-natal counseling, or of imagining alien worlds, faster-than-light travel, resurrected dinosaurs, miracle drugs, or utopian societies? As the film Contact asks, are we better off because of science and technology? What counts as “better off”?
The visions of science and technology in film are plentiful and complex. The classic documentary The Plow That Broke The Plains, for example, describes how the steel plow, while making farming possible on the Great Plains of North America, also set the stage for the ecological destruction of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. The film is a sober evaluation of gains and losses. More philosophically, the science-fiction thriller Gattaca envisions a world where genetic engineering eradicates birth defects but also reduces the un-engineered to second-class citizens. The film pits our faith in scientific understanding against our faith in individual will. More popularly, Star Trek heralds the social progressivism made possible by advanced technology but habitually dramatizes the enslavement of people to machines. The Story of Louis Pasteur features a hero motivated by intellectual curiosity but also by dreams of curing deadly diseases and of acquitting himself to his hide-bound colleagues. The aerospace explorers of Breaking the Sound Barrier, The Right Stuff, and Apollo 13, who push themselves and their machines to the limit, are motivated by personal and national glory, but these films also test the vanity behind it. Many fictional scientists, from Dr. Frankenstein to Hannibal Lecter, seek power over nature, governments, and other beings, but their evil is often mixed with pathos or humor. Film offers us visions of science and technology that have profoundly influenced both our dreams and our nightmares.
Submissions might include discussions of any of the following, across genres:
• Depictions of scientists and inventors, either as heroic figures, or their mad, misguided counterparts (Dr. Who, Indiana Jones, Marie Curie, Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Moreau, Ron Mallett, Charles Darwin, Nicola Tesla)
• Depictions of scientific, medical, and technological breakthroughs, as well as catastrophic failures
• Visions of the post-human futures: cyborgs, androids, self-aware computers
• Robots, aliens, and similar “others” as benign allies, servants, and friends, as well as those run amuck, or adversarial (Robby the Robot, R2D2 and C3PO, Mother, KITT, HAL 9000, Colossus, Skynet, M-5)
• Human contact with technologically advanced alien species who seek to aid, enlighten, or conquer (Contact, Babylon 5, Star Trek, Signs, The Day the Earth Stood Still)
• Images of science and technology as symbols of national identity (Breaking the Sound Barrier, The Right Stuff, Armageddon)
• Depictions of “super-weapons,” real or fictional
• Documentary or semi-documentary films on the “wonders of nature” (Disney’s True Life Adventures, Planet Earth, Meerkat Manor) or on the mechanics of technology (How It’s Made)
• Fictional monsters created, intentionally or not, by science and technology (Frankenstein, Attack of the Crab Monsters, I Am Legend)
• Images of science and technology as tools of oppression, surveillance, and social control (the Holocaust, Lysenkoism, dystopias)
• Documentary critiques of science and technology
• Scientific controversies (such as evolution vs. intelligent design)
• Technology as an agent of dehumanization (Modern Times, Brazil)
You are encouraged to consider other topics, as well. Papers delivered at the 2008 Film & History Conference, grounded in empirical research and revised for print publication, are particularly welcome. Articles should be 4,000-7,000 words in length, exclusive of notes. Initial submissions should be sent by postal mail as hard copies and by e-mail, preferably as Microsoft Word files. The editor will accept manuscripts in MLA, APA, or Chicago style, according to your scholarly discipline.
Please submit an electronic copy of your complete article, as an attachment, to this e-mail address:
Please also submit a paper copy of your complete article to this address:
Loren PQ Baybrook Editor, Film & History 800 Algoma Blvd. Oshkosh, WI 54901
First-Round Deadline for All Submissions: June 1, 2009