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KMI 2014 : Edited Volume: Kafka and the Moving Image - Call for contributions


When Jan 1, 2014 - May 1, 2014
Where Edited Volume
Submission Deadline May 1, 2014
Categories    film studies   literature   philosophy   media

Call For Papers

Call For Papers
Kafka And The Moving Image
His thinking, as his wonderful diary shows, was generally done in the form of images
(Brod, Franz Kafka Biography 52)

The cinematic quality of Kafka's prose, as noted by his biographer Max Brod, has been clear to many of the most important commentators on 20th century art. Theodor Adorno, for one, claimed that Kafka's texts agitate the reader to the point he fears they will "shoot towards him like a locomotive in a three-dimensional film." Walter Benjamin, meanwhile, compares the Kafkaesque situation with that of the alienated subject watching himself on film. Nevertheless, the idea of "imaging" the Kafkaesque was denied by many – first and foremost by Kafka himself, who famously urged his publisher to avoid an image of the insect on the cover of "Die Verwandlung". Be that as it may, it is unlikely that Kafka, a central progenitor of 20th century art and thought, can be fully understood without reference to the revolutionary artistic medium of his century: cinema. The integration of Kafka and the moving image has thus materialized in adaptations, documentaries, biographical films, installations and otherwise.
Several thinkers have vaguely referred to this integration on a theoretical level: In his Cinema 1, Gilles Deleuze – a pivotal thinker on both Kafka and the moving image – asks whether Kafka's mixture of "phantom machines" is not also "the whole history of the cinema?" while Walter Benjamin describes Kafka's craft as divesting "the humane gesture of its traditional supports" to have "a subject for reflection without end" – a description that could as well be ascribed to the craft of film-making. Perhaps, as Deleuze and Benjamin seem to be suggesting here, the cinematic possesses an intrinsically Kafkaesque quality? Can the moving image be seen as the conclusion of Wittgenstein Tractatus in a reciprocal fashion to Kafka's use of language that, as Adorno described, is "endlessly blurring and abolishing itself"? Or, put skeptically, is a visual manifestation of the Kafkaesque possible at all, and if so what are the conditions of this possibility?
What remains, and what this volume intends to provide, is the theoretical integration of Kafka and the moving image, to accompany these various forms of practical and artistic integration.
Bearing the above orienting questions in mind, we invite submissions for a collection of essays concerning (i) the relations between the moving image and the Kafkaesque, (ii) film adaptations or references of Kafka or of the Kafkaesque, (iii) the cinematic adaptability of Kafka or of the Kafkaesque, (iv) Kafka's own relation and experience with cinema. We provisionally suggest four main trajectories for the volume’s investigation of the relations between Kafka and the moving image:
1. Kafka in the Cinema: [Diaries, Letters, Biography, Kafka documentaries and bio-pics etc.] – In his valuable Kafka Goes to the Movies Hans Zischler traces the experiences of Kafka the "movie-goer". Zischler notes that Kafka's most extensive remarks on movies are found in his letters to Felice Bauer. This note is of special interest regarding the "machine-discourse" (Typewriter, Dictaphone, Telephone, Train etc.) which characterizes, as illuminated by Galili Shahar (Kafka's Wound 2008), the correspondence and relationship of the couple. What is the role of cinema in the "machine-discourse" of Kafka? To what extent can Kafka's literature be regarded "cinematic"? How can documentaries and bio-pics of Kafka be read in the light of the "cinema-discourse" of his biography and creation?
2. Cinematic adaptations of Kafka's literature: [The Trial (Welles), Das Schloss (Noelte), Die Verwandlung (Nemec), Klassenverhältnisse (Straub & Huillet), Kafka (Soderbergh), Kafka (Rybczynski), The Trial (Jones), Amerika (Michalek), Zamok (Balabanov), Das Schloss (Haneke), A Country Doctor (Yamamura) etc.] – This trajectory aims at examination of the cinematic adaptations of Kafka's literature. We are interested in topics that suggest thorough analysis of films and deal with the relations between the literary source and the cinematic adaptation. We are also interested in a general review of the cinematic adaptations of Kafka, comparisons of different adaptations of the same text, the influence of Welles, the alternative use of medium (Rybczynski, Nemec, Yamamura), fidelity and infidelity to the source text and such like concerns.
3. Kafkaesque cinema: [The Tenant (Polanski), After Hours (Scorsese), Shadows & Fog (Allen), Intervista (Fellini), Down by Law (Jarmusch), Chaplin (City lights, Modern times), Hitchcock (The Wrong man, North by Northwest, The Birds), Coen Brothers (Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn't There, A Serious Man), Lynch (Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Inland Empire), Cronenberg (Naked Lunch, Crash), "Kafkaesque genres" (Film-noir, Horror, Fantasy, Metamorphosis, Sci-fi) etc.] – This trajectory aims at examination of "Kafkaesque cinema". We are interested in topics that suggest thorough analysis of films while dealing with their Kafkaesque qualities. What makes a "Kafkaesque film"? What is the uniqueness of the "cinematic absurd"? Are there "Kafkaesque genres"?
4. Kafka and the moving image: This trajectory aims at examination of structural relations between the Kafkaesque and the moving image as a medium, the adaptability of Kafka and of the Kafkaesque, the cinematic manifestation of lingual and visual Metaphors (Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno on Kafka, Benjamin on Kafka might be especially relevant here).

Other topics will also be happily considered.
Kindly submit a 300-400 words abstract + short CV by email to:
Submission deadline for abstracts is May 1st, 2014.

Volume editors:
Shai Biderman and Ido Lewit
The Department of Film and Television
Faculty of the Arts
Tel-Aviv University

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