New Directions in Screen Studies

Under Construction and New Directions Teams

New Directions in Screen Studies II:  Thursday 22 – Friday 23 June 2017

A group of Monash Film and Screen Studies postgraduates have been especially busy over the past few months, having organised what looks to be an outstanding national conference. Developed out of the monthly Under Construction seminar series, New Directions in Screen Studies is a two-day conference for postgraduates and early career researchers (ECRs) in Screen Studies. The conference is a forum for new researchers to showcase their work before their peers and develop professional links across campuses around the country and beyond. Its academic focus is emerging concerns, debates and methodologies in the field of screen studies, but it also hopes to capture the multiple ways in which the historical, the contemporary and the future are inter-related domains of knowledge. Keynote speakers include Dr Ramon Lobato, Professor Angela Ndalianis, Professor George Kouvaros and filmmaker John Hughes.

Here’s what the organisers have to say about it:

What is Under Construction?

Matteo Dutto: Under Construction is a seminar series run by postgraduates in the School of Media, Film and Journalism for postgraduates. We meet on the first Monday of every month during semester to share ideas in a laid-back setting in which we can get to know each other and each other’s work. Presenters can share and test-run their conference papers, milestone presentations, journal articles, or just some of the ideas from their research.

What made you want to get involved with this group/project?

Michael Kho Lim: When I started my PhD program, I was quite overwhelmed with everything and seemed to be lost. I also didn’t know anyone else from the program besides my classmates in my coursework. I wanted to meet some of the seniors so I would know how it went for them, how was the experience, etc. Then an announcement came the UC would be “revived.” I attended some sessions and thought of joining the organising committee because I think it’s a good way to interact with other PhD students and help the new ones start off more prepared. I also thought that it would add excitement to my PhD life as it could be quite a solitary journey. I have been quite used to organising events back home, so I thought of helping out as well.

Dan Edwards: I can’t speak for the others, but I was drawn to the idea of a seminar series, and later a conference, because I felt, along with several other postgrads I spoke to, that there was a distinct lack of community amongst the MFJ PhD students at Monash. The only time many of us saw each other was at end of year drinks, so we saw the seminars partly as a way of fostering a social community. Secondly, it seemed important to provide postgrads with a forum for presenting and testing their work before their peers in a non-pressured environment. Otherwise, for many people presenting their work meant stepping straight into a conference set up, where you are often presenting before a more senior (and sometimes much more critical) cohort.

How did the conference develop out of the seminar series?

Matteo Dutto: It all came quite naturally after we had run the series for about a year. We thought it would be a good idea to open up the format and organise a conference focusing on the work of postgraduates and early career researchers in Screen Studies and provide a national forum to discuss their research and establish connections with their peers.

How did you decide on “new directions” as a theme?

Belinda Glyn: When we were deciding what kind of conference we wanted to have, we realised there was no conference in Australia just for postgrads and early career researchers. This seemed like a huge oversight, because this group are the researchers of the future who have lots of interesting things to say but might, due to lack of experience and published work, find it hard to get into the more established film studies conferences. New directions seemed like an appropriate way to describe the work of upcoming film scholars – the new directions in the field of film studies.

What challenges did you overcome during the organising process?

Shweta Kishore: It has been a great learning experience. We have worked well as a team with a common objective. The challenges have been minor logistical issues but nothing major so far. We were quite fortunate that as we had run a seminar series, it helped to establish our credentials when we approached the School of Media, Film and Journalism as well as MIGR with the proposal for a conference.

And, finally, which panel are you most looking forward to and why?

Sofia Rios: The panel I am looking forward to the most is “Outsiders, liars and bad men: takes on contemporary television”. I am a huge advocate for television studies, as I find that film studies usually steals the limelight

Matteo Dutto: I wish I could see all panels, but we had so many high-level submissions that we had to have three streams. If I had to pick three I would go with the panel on FILM FESTIVALS AND PUBLICS, the one on NON-PROFESSIONAL STORYTELLING and with DESTABILISING CRITICAL THEORY. I am also looking forward to the screening of John Hughes’ 1995 film What I Have Written as parts of it were shot at the Monash Clayton campus. The conference reception is also going to be great fun.

Shweta Kishore: All the panels feature excellent papers and presenters. Personally I am looking forward to the Screen Sound and Music panel because sound is such an important element of films but is often subordinated to the visual mise en scene in film studies. I am also looking forward to our film screening and the keynote speakers as well as connecting with the presenters at the reception.

Dan Edwards: I think they’ll all be great, but personally I’m particularly looking forward to the “Moments of Stasis” panel on day one, because I love films that play on the tension between motion and stillness, and encourage a viewing attitude that is above all attendant to minute shifts in tone. I’m also really looking forward to all of our keynotes, who are a very eclectic group of scholars with very different approaches and interests.

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