October 08, 2007

SIUC hosts foreign language film conference

by Andrea Hahn


CARBONDALE, Ill. — In the scholarly world, there are film conferences and there are foreign language conferences – but until this fall, there haven't been any foreign language film conferences.

That's not to say foreign language films haven't been discussed before at conferences devoted to more general topics. However, several faculty members in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Southern Illinois University Carbondale decided it was time to focus on foreign language films as a topic worthy of study itself. And so, from Oct. 11 through Oct. 13, SIUC presents its first foreign language film conference. It may also be the first conference of its type offered at any major university or college in the United States.

Approximately 40 scholars from more than two-dozen colleges and universities from all across the country will present their interpretations, based on their own areas of study, of the conference's theme, "Cultural Correspondences and the Camera."

"We have people coming from all over to present papers," Thyra Knapp, a lecturer in German at SIUC and one of the original organizers of the conference, said. "It's a really good turn-out."

The conference features two special guests, Kate Regan from the University of Portland, and Tom Conley, from Harvard University. Regan will show her 45-minute documentary, "The Sephardic Legacy of Segovia, Spain: Pentimento of the Past," beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Museum Auditorium in Faner Hall. The film is part of the prestigious "Films for the Humanities" series, and examines the lasting influence of Jewish culture on Spanish heritage. A question and answer session follows the showing, with a casual reception following it.

Conley delivers the keynote address at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 12. His general topic is "Site and Correspondence in Classical Cinema." Conley is a well-known multi-disciplinary scholar and the Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard, where he teaches French and cinema studies. He applies an interest in cartography, or the production of maps, to the cinema. He will speak in the Student Center Ballroom A.

Sessions for papers begin at 9 a.m. on Friday with breaks for lunch and coffee. The last paper session begins at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Each moderated session includes two or three 20-minute papers and an allowance for about 10 minutes of questions. Sessions follow themes, including use of foreign language films in the classroom, foreign language documentaries, border issues and depictions of war or gender.

Organizers of the event include: H. Paul Brown, Thorsten Huth, Thyra E. Knapp, Jennifer L. Smith and Anne Winston-Allen, of the SIUC Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Edgar Mejia-Galeana from the Providence College Department of Modern Languages and Rosemary A. Peters from Louisiana State University Department of French Studies. Knapp noted the conference organizers were grateful to College of Liberal Arts Dean Alan Vaux for supporting them on the venture.

For more information about the conference, check www.siu.edu/~dfll.