Bang, Bang, Crash, Crash: Canon-Busting and Paradigm-Smashing | Fall 2019

2019 MA in Film and Media Studies Conference, co-presented by Columbia University MA in Film and Media Studies & Institute for Women and Gender Studies. 

Friday, November 22

5 PM – 7 PM: Pre-Conference Panel, "Canon Formation" – Dodge Hall 507

Panelists: Paul Attard, “Cultural Clout Chasing: The Perceived Value in ‘Low’ and ‘High’ Art”; Tess Smith, “Valuing Films and Disassembling the Canon”; Weibe CopmanYan-Fei Song, “A Critical Perspective of Canon Formation: Critique of ‘The Politics of Film Canons’”; Jialin Zhang, “From List to Web: A Summary and Response to ‘The Politics of Film Canons’”; Jing Peng, “Canons Should Not Suppress: Our Interesting Understanding of Cinema and Television”


8 PM: Film Screening of House – Dodge Hall 511

Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, Japan, 1977

88 minutes

Saturday, November 23

8:30 AM: Coffee/Tea – Dodge Hall 508


9 AM – 10:15 AM: Keynote Address, “Melodramas of Subjectivity” with Damon Young – Dodge Hall 507

Damon Young is an Associate Professor of French and Film and Media at UC Berkeley, and the author of Making Sex Public and Other Cinematic Fantasies.


10:30 AM – 11:50 AM: Netflix and Genre – ​Dodge 507

Panelists: Po Chen, “The Netflix Effect and How It Affects Film Genre Scholarship”; Tianpei Zhou, “Netflix, Inherent Intentional Instability and the Long Tail Theory”; Jie Zou “How Netflix’s Categories and Genres Re-Define the Long Tail”


Lunch Break


1:15 PM – 2:35 PM: Netflix and Taste Formation – Dodge 507

Panelists: Zitong Feng, “The ‘Taste’ That ceases to Exist: How Netflix Reshapes the Cinema World”; Emma Weeks, “Recommended for You: Exploring the Consumption of Mediain the Age of Netflix”; Madeleine Collier, “Predictive Personalization and the Politics of the Streamingverse: A Response to Neta Alexander”; Yuke Xie, “Thoughts on Neta Alexander’s “Catered to Your Future Self: Netflix’s ‘Predictive Personalization’ and the Mathematization of Taste”


2:35PM – 3:55 PM: New Media – Dodge 507

Panelists: Joseph Fischer, “Cinema of Attractions: Mode or Spectatorship”; Marissa C DeBaca, “The Human and Technological Binary”; Hexuan Cao, “Inspirations from The Netflix Effect”; Xinlei Yu, “Media Archaeology: Where Film History, Media Art and New Media (Can) Meet”


3:55 PM – 5:15 PM: Prestige – Dodge 507

Panelists: Simone Dill, “The Last Shall Be First: Aesthetics and Politics in Black Film and Media”; Maria Teresa Fidalgo-Azize, “The Erasure of Neutrality in the Cultural Legitimization Process of Awarding”; Mark Ebbay, “Post-War Prestige and Signifiers of Neorealism”




5:50 PM – 7:10 PM: Melodrama and Silent Film – Dodge 507

Panelists: Spandita Behera, “Thrill and Terror of Queerness in Weimar Cinema: An Analysis of ‘Render unto Cesare: The Queerness of Caligari’”; Juan A. Ramirez, “Melodrama’s Continued Legacy in Venezuelan Cinema”; Zhe Xu, “Parasite: Challenging the Melodrama Paradigm”; Jing Jiao, “The ‘Greatness’ of The Great White Silence”


7:10 PM – 8:30 PM: Chinese Film  – Dodge 507

Panelists: Yinqi Huang, “Chinese ‘National Film’ in Transnational Context”; Zoe Jiao, “From Murder in 405 to Deep in the Heart: Paradigm Shift in Chinese Crime Films”; Qiuyuan Tang, “From National Art Film to Transnational Commercial Production: The Shifting of Zhang Yimou’s Films”; Shiyu Li, “Is Commensurability Between Cultures and Generations Possible?: Transnational Cinema from Chinese Fifth Generation in 1980s to Now”

Event Time & Date

Date: Past Event
Location: Dodge 507 & 511

Event Description

From the inception of cinema, the makers of motion pictures have been concerned with social acceptance relative to other established forms of culture. This concern has been manifested  in attempts by critics to elevate new forms--from mass culture to “art” from “low” to “high,” from dismissed to established.  Thus, over the century, debates have continued around value and evaluation have raged. Much is at stake because the question of “what is cinema”? now encompasses museum culture as well as the scramble for ratings and box office numbers.


Over the century, some of the same terms continue to be used to justify the elevation of some moving image works over others. Here are the markers of which become critically acclaimed, which are given prizes and awards, and which are preserved and re-issued or featured in retrospectives. Dissatisfaction with Top 50 “Best Film” lists of canonized titles has led to periodic challenges—first from Third World makers then feminist critics and more recently the LGBTQ community which has led to creative re-reading as a form of challenge to the canon.


To this problematic of valuation we can add the issue of viewer choice. While historically auteur/director and genre have been the basis of classification systems, after the paradigm shift named the “digital turn,” another issue arises centered on the formulation of “taste cultures,” reminding us that despite the tension between art vs. industry, what we are studying has historically been commerce. With the possibility of collecting  so much consumer data today we ask about the consequences of online “mathematization of taste” and the streaming company’s attempt to predict selection as a way of promoting purchase.


In the current moment, we return to the problem of how and why viewers choose one work of culture over another: television programs or moving pictures to watch or games to play.


The basic terms and categories of classification are seldom questioned but in this conference will do just that. Changes in taste cultures as well as the make-up of the world cinema canon  highlight shifts that some critics have pinpointed, but you might identify what you think are new ones. Old paradigms (like melodrama) may be either challenged by new films or provide new insights. Over decades, critical positions shift (dramatic in the evaluation of Chinese films in particular). What do we want to call these shifts?