Matters of Fact and Fiction

A one-day symposium on the work of Stacie Friend

1.30pm – 2.30pm: Comments by Margrethe Bruun-Vaaghe & Derek Matravers 2.30pm – 3.30pm: Response Stacie Friend & Discussion
3.30pm – 4pm: Coffee
4pm – 5pm: Comments by Paloma Atencia-Linares & Shen-yi Liao
5pm – 6pm: Response Stacie Friend & Discussion

Jenefer Robinson – Empathy through/with/for Music


Jenefer Robinson teaches and writes on topics in aesthetics and philosophical psychology, especially the theory of emotion. Her book, Deeper than Reason (OUP 2005) applied recent advances in emotion theory to issues in aesthetics, such as the expression of emotion in the arts, how music arouses emotions and moods, and how the emotional experience of literature and music in particular can be a mode of understanding and appreciation. Jenefer is Past President of the American Society for Aesthetics. She is currently writing a book on emotion for OUP.

Richard Allen – The Passion of Christ and the Melodramatic Imagination

CFMR and ARC research seminar: 

Professor Richard Allen, Dean, School of Creative Media, City University, Hong Kong and Chair Professor of Film and Media Art

Wednesday 30th March 2016, 5-7pm, Grimond Lecture Theatre 2 (GLT2), University of Kent

Melodrama has been defined as a secular mode of dramaturgy that begins in late 18th century France. This research project argues that the paintings and enactments of Christ’s Passion in the Middle Ages create the modern vocabulary of melodrama, thereby inviting us to re-conceive the relationship between the spiritual and the secular in modernity.

Before the Medieval period, The Passion of Christ was interpreted as the stage of a conflict between God and the Devil over the fate of man in which man played little role. In the Early Middle Ages, Christ’s passion was reconceived as the story of a suffering human, stoically bearing the beating and torments of his villainous persecutors, and lamented by women, Mary, his mother, and Mary Magdalene, who model the viewer’s response to his suffering. I propose that the medieval representation and enactment of Christ’s passion brings into being “the melodramatic imagination” which Peter Brooks identified with the emergence of the modern self in the secular world of the late 18th century. In medieval passions an essentially cosmic, theological drama, is given a human expression and heightened emotional response yields ethical recognition of God’s incarnation and martyrdom as a man. In sensational 19th century theatre and 20th century film, ordinary men and women are martyred to implacable forces of social injustice personified in the villain. Though ordinary, they suffer like Christ, and their audience, by responding with heightened emotion, is attuned to their singular virtue. In this way, in 19th and 20th century melodrama, Christian modes of affective piety are transformed into secular modes of storytelling and dramaturgy.

Richard Allen is Dean, School of Creative Media, City University, Hong Kong and Chair Professor of Film and Media Art. He is author of, among other books, Projecting Illusion and Hitchcock’s Romantic Irony and he is currently completing a book entitled Bollywood Poetics. This paper forms part of his new research.

Confined Projections

Confined Projections is a curatorial design project by Eleen Deprez, postgraduate research student in History and Philosophy of Art.

As part of the International Festival of Projections (March 2016) we built six contemporary Mutoscopes with work of contemporary artists and filmmakers. A mutoscope is an early motion picture device. The device is hand-operated by one person at a time showing a reel of 1000 images. This project investigated the conjunction of public/private, visibility/invisibility, and proximity/distance in the film experience. The Mutoscope dominated the coin-in-slot peep-show business in Britain during the turn of the century. Operating on the same principle of a flipbook —showing a reel of 1000 images— the device is hand-operated by one person at a time. The viewer is thus able to influence the cinematic temporality of the film, creating his/her own unique viewing experience in a tactile relationship with the cinematic apparatus.

With work by:

Photography by Perpetua Ajuma Abalaka

Andrew Huddleston – Why I Am Not an Intentionalist

Why I Am Not an Intentionalist

Dr Andrew Huddleston, Birkbeck, University of London

Wednesday 9th March, 5pm – 7pm, Keynes Lecture Theatre (KLT2), University of Kent

Whereas half a century ago, proclamations of authorial intentionalism would have met with an incredulous stare, the tables have turned, and intentionalism, of one form or another, seems to have become the dominant view, at least in analytic aesthetics. I have no complaint about the unobjectionable view that recovering intentions (or developing best hypotheses about them) and interpreting works accordingly are appropriate and important goals of critical inquiry. However, the intentionalists I oppose (potentially forms of both “modest actual” and “hypothetical,” in the current lingo) are those who want to go further, so as to have grounds for indicting people who are allegedly misinterpreting works of art by contravening the author’s intentions. These restrictive intentionalists want to use intention (or the best hypothetical reconstruction thereof) as a strong interpretive constraint, so that an interpretation which contravenes a successfully realized intention (or a hypothesis thereof) is thereby inappropriate. The view that I will defend in this paper is non-intentionalist. There are, I will maintain, good and legitimate interpretations of works of art that contravene the author’s realized intentions (or our best hypotheses thereof). The restrictive hermeneutical policy that the intentionalist champions is unwarranted, but we need to oppose it in a pluralistic spirit, by recognizing that there are a number of different worthwhile critical projects. In this paper, I seek to defuse several arguments given by intentionalists, and to give positive argument for non-intentionalism.


Symposium on Cinema, Embodiment, and the Aesthetics of Pornography

Thursday 3rd March 2016, 9:30am – 4pm, Darwin Lecture Theatre 3, University of Kent

Clarissa Smith – Professor of Sexual Cultures in the Centre for Research in Media & Cultural Studies University of Sunderland
Clarissa Smith – Professor of Sexual Cultures in the Centre for Research in Media & Cultural Studies University of Sunderland

Petra van Brabandt – Lecturer at the St Lucas School of Arts Antwerp “Wet Aesthetics and Queer Pornography”
Petra van Brabandt – Lecturer at the St Lucas School of Arts Antwerp
“Wet Aesthetics and Queer Pornography”

Eliza Steinbock “Look! But also, Touch! Theorizing Images of Trans Eroticism Beyond a Politics of Visual Essentialism”
Eliza Steinbock
“Look! But also, Touch! Theorizing Images of Trans Eroticism Beyond a Politics of Visual Essentialism”

Panel Discussion

This one-day symposium focuses on the intimate relationship between cinema, embodiment, and pornography. By bringing together an interdisciplinary range of speakers, originating from disciplines such as philosophy of art, film and media studies, and cultural studies we investigate the relationship between cinema and the senses. From investigating the “cinema of attractions” in early cinema, to the “haptic visuality” apparent in intercultural and feminist film, and “body genres” such as horror, melodrama, and pornography; in very different ways film scholars have argued against the conventional emphasis on vision and visibility and in favour of an understanding of embodied spectatorship. In relation, recent research in analytic aesthetics has focused on the multimodality of perception as well as definitions of erotic art and pornography. This symposium explores in what ways different pornographies engage with the sensate, tactile, and visceral experience of sexuality. By instigating a dialogue between scholars from different approaches we hope that this symposium will advance scholarly engagement with the “carnal aesthetics” of pornography.



9.30am – 9.45
Opening remarks by Dr Hans Maes, Senior Lecturer, History of Art, University of Kent

9.45 – 10.45
Clarissa Smith – Professor of Sexual Cultures in the Centre for Research in Media & Cultural Studies University of Sunderland
“More Than Just Flesh: The Porn Performer’s Body in Action

10.45 – 11.45
Ingrid Ryberg – Filmmaker and postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Media Studies of Stockholm University 
“Feeling Wasteland: Utopianism and Backwardness in Queer Porn

11.45 – 12.00
Coffee and tea

12.00 – 13.00
Petra van Brabandt – Lecturer at the St Lucas School of Arts Antwerp
“Wet Aesthetics and Queer Pornography”

13.00 – 14.00
Lunch (not provided)

14.00 – 15.00
Eliza Steinbock – Assistant Professor and postdoctoral researcher at the Film and Literary Department of Leiden University
“Look! But also, Touch! Theorizing Images of Trans Eroticism Beyond a Politics of Visual Essentialism”

15.00 – 16.00
Panel Discussion with Eliza Steinbock, Petra van Brabandt, Ingrid Ryberg, Clarissa Smith, and Pandora Blake.

The symposium and film screening are two of the components that make up the cross-disciplinary project Confined Projectionswhich is part of the International Festival of Projections taking place at the University of Kent 18-20 March 2016. The project also includes the exhibition of six custom-made mutoscopes, showing work by national and international artists and filmmakers. Taking the mutoscope as leitmotiv, this project investigates the tension between public and private, visibility and invisibility, and proximity and distance in the film experience, revealing interesting connections between this early form of cinema and more recent developments in erotic filmmaking.

With the generous support of:

The British Society of Aesthetics
The Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent
The Centre for Film and Media Research, University of Kent

Further information and registration

Berys Gaut – The Value of Creativity

Wednesday 24th February, 5pm – 7pm, Grimond Lecture Theatre 2 (GLT2), University of Kent 

The Value of Creativity

Creativity is generally regarded as an invariably valuable trait. But is that true? There seem to be cases of ‘dark’ creativity: for instance, a torturer may be creative, but his creativity makes the world a worse place. I develop a definition of ‘creativity’ in terms of an agential disposition to produce new things that are valuable of their kind, and employ this account to show that creativity has instrumental value, final value (value as an end), but only conditional value, i.e., it is valuable only under some circumstances. I also argue for a constitutive connection between creativity and spontaneity and show how spontaneity contributes to the value of creativity. An upshot of the argument is that sometimes enhancing creativity is a bad thing.


Julian Hanich: I, You and We


Ideas for a Phenomenology of the Collective Cinema Experience

Isn’t watching a film with others in a cinema crucially different from watching a film alone? When we laugh together, this amplifies the enjoyment. When we watch a film in communal rapt attention, this can intensify the experience. When annoyed by talking neighbors, we are distracted. Attending a film in a cinema implies being influenced by others – an influence that is particularly noticeable once affective responses play a role. Film scholars have almost always taken the relation between individual viewers and films as default. However, this is an artificial abstraction click here to investigate. Without considering the effects of collective viewing our understanding of the cinema experience remains incomplete. This talk tries to sketch some ideas toward a phenomenology of the collective cinema experience.


Professor Julian Hanich is Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of Groningen. From 2009 to 2012 he held a position as postdoctoral research fellow at the interdisciplinary research center “Languages of Emotion” at the Freie Universität Berlin. He studied North American Studies and Film Studies in Berlin, Berkeley and Munich and was a visiting researcher at UCLA and the University of Amsterdam. In 2010 he published a monograph on the phenomenology of fear at the movies, entitled Cinematic Emotion in Horror Films and Thrillers. The Aesthetic Paradox of Pleasurable Fear (Routledge). He also co-edited a volume of the German online journal Nach dem Film on Laughter in the Movie Theater and a book on filmic suggestion and the viewer’s imagination entitled Auslassen, Andeuten, Auffüllen. Der Film und die Imagination des Zuschauers (Fink). His articles have appeared in ScreenProjectionsNecsus, Cinema Journal (forthcoming), Film-Philosophy,Movie, Jump CutThe New Review of Film and Television StudiesPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts,Montage/AVZeitschrift für Ästhetik und allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft and Amerikastudien/American Studies.

Dominic Topp – Nouveau cinéma: from fragmentation to unity, or What Cahiers du cinéma did next…

Wednesday 9th December, 5pm – 7pm. in GLT3

Dr Dominic Topp, School of Arts, University of Kent

In the mid-1960s a new generation of critics at Cahiers du cinéma, who had taken over from the ‘young Turks’ of the 1950s, moved the journal away from the veneration of Hollywood auteurs and the exploration of mise en scène for which it is still best known. Instead, they began to write about and to actively promote what they dubbednouveau cinéma (new cinema). This term was applied to the work of a wide variety of filmmakers from many different countries, but broadly speaking it can be seen as designating a modernist film practice. Drawing on examples from films by, among others, Věra Chytilová, Agnès Varda and Jerzy Skolimowski, this paper will describe some of the features of nouveau cinéma as they were outlined by Cahiers critics such as Jean-Louis Comolli, Noël Burch and Serge Daney: discontinuity and ambiguity at the levels of both subject matter and form, a creative tension between fragmentation and unity, and a reflexivity that could be understood as self-critical, and even oppositional, in nature. It will suggest that the concept of nouveau cinéma can be understood as an interpretative schema that allowed Cahiers readers to make sense of a diverse range of challenging new films by considering their formal and stylistic practices as their true subject matter, and offered a set of viewing strategies by which formal experimentation and political engagement could be seen not as mutually exclusive but as profoundly interrelated.


Sarah Cardwell: research seminar


Monday 26th October, 5pm – 7pm. in KS14

‘Framing television: the dramatic implications of aspect ratio’

Within television studies, and even within television aesthetics, ‘aspect ratio’ is frequently overlooked or naively characterised. Yet it plays a fundamental, determining role in forming and framing television’s dramatic spaces and in turn, its stories and meanings. A balanced reappraisal of television’s varied aspect ratios and its impact upon TV’s unique dramatic and aesthetic possibilities can enhance our close analyses and further our understanding of television’s fascinating ‘art history’.

In this paper I will challenge some residual myths, misunderstandings and preconceptions about TV’s aspect ratios and their spatial properties. I would like to counter prevailing pro-widescreen rhetoric, by tracing some of the dramatic and aesthetic qualities of 4:3 that have been lost in the movement to 16:9; in pursuit of this, I’ll consider the example of Marion and Geoff (BBC, 2000 & 2003). I aim to make the case for more overt and sustained attention to be paid to aspect ratio within television aesthetics.

Dr Sarah Cardwell is Honorary Fellow in the School of Arts, University of Kent, where she was previously Senior Lecturer. She is the author of Adaptation Revisited (MUP, 2002) and Andrew Davies (MUP, 2005), as well as numerous articles and papers on film and television aesthetics, literary adaptation, contemporary British literature, and British cinema and television. She is a founding co-editor of ‘The Television Series’ (MUP), Book Reviews editor for Critical Studies in Television, and on the advisory board for the new series ‘Adaptation and Visual Culture’ (Palgrave Macmillan).