Screening the Avant-Garde

A series of conversations exploring avant-garde film, feminism and the semiotics of the image


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Artistic legacies
  • Pedagogy
  • Philosophy / Theory

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Cinema Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania


Karen Beckman

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


75% Formal - 25% Informal

  • Film

Slought and Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce "Screening the Avant-Garde," a series of lectures by theorists Mary Ann Doane, Laura Mulvey, John Mowitt and Gregory Flaxman. These events have been organized and introduced by Karen Beckman, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Laura Mulvey will present "City Girls, Flappers, and Feminist Film Theory," a film screening and public lecture, on Monday, March 31, 2008 at 5:30pm. The event will begin with a special screening of People On Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag, 74 min) at 5:30pm, followed by Laura Mulvey's presentation at 7pm. In this seminal film from 1929, directed by Robert Siodmak with a screenplay by Billy Wilder, we are presented with the portrait of a completely normal summer day in Berlin in 1929: life pulsates, the city vibrates full of energy, there is action all around. As though it were coincidence, the viewer gains insight into the lives of different residents of the metropole, and follows them through their everyday activities, their work, and their free time.

Mary Ann Doane will present "Screening the Avant-Garde Face," a public lecture, on September 27, 2007 at 6:30pm.

John Mowitt and Gregory Flaxman will present "The Civilization of the Cinema" on November 19, 2004 at 6:30-8:30pm. Following brief presentations, their conversation will explore the question of language in the cinema. In the past, film scholars as well as philosophers have struggled to define the relationship between words and images, often with the result that the cinema has been read according to an overarching linguistic code. In this event, however, the speakers return to this traditional problem by renovating the concept of discourse as the means to describe the audio-visual image. While Flaxman will discuss discouse in terms of the development of a speaking cinema and what Gilles Deleuze has called the "civilization" of the cinema, Mowitt will elaborate a theory of discourse in order to address the development of postcolonal and global cinemas.

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Mary Ann Doane is George Hazard Crooker Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. In 1996-1997 and 1998-2000 she was Chair of the Department of Modern Culture and Media. A specialist in film theory, feminist theory and semiotics, Doane is the author of The Desire to Desire: The Woman's Film of the 1940s (Indiana University Press, 1987), Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 1991), and The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive (Harvard University Press, 2002). She has published a wide range of articles on feminist film theory, sound in the cinema, psychoanalytic theory, sexual and racial difference in film, melodrama, and television. Doane was a member of the Executive Council for The Society for Cinema Studies from 1986 to 1989 and served on the Film Division of the Modern Language Association from 1993-1997. She is a member of the editorial board of Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies and an advisory editor for Camera Obscura and Parallax. In 1990-91, she was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2005 she was invited to deliver the Christian Gauss lectures at Princeton. She also received a Wriston Fellowship and a Pembroke Center Faculty Fellowship at Brown in 1982-83.

Gregory Flaxman is an assistant professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The editor of Brain and the Screen, he is currently at work on two books: The Undiscovered Country: A Philosophy of the Western (with Gregg Lambert), and a treatment of the subject of lying in art and philosophy. He co-organized the 'Theorizing' Series at the University of Pennsylvania from 1999-2001.

John Mowitt is chair of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. He has written widely on matters of theory, culture and politics; his most recent book is Percussion: Drumming, Beating, Striking (Duke University Press, 2002). He is a senior editor of Cultural Critique.

Laura Mulvey was born in Oxford in 1941. After studying history at St. Hilda's, Oxford University, she came to prominence in the early 1970s as a film theorist, writing for periodicals such as Spare Rib and Seven Days. Much of her early critical work investigated questions of spectatorial identification and its relationship to the male gaze, and her writings, particularly the 1975 essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," helped establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study. She is professor for Film and Visual Media at Birkbeck College in London. Mulvey's recent publications include Death 24 × a Second. Stillness and the Moving Image (Reaktion Books, 2006). Mulvey was also a prominent as an avant-garde filmmaker in the 1970s and 1980s. With Peter Wollen she co-wrote and co-directed Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974), Riddles of the Sphinx (1977), AMY! (1980), Crystal Gazing (1982), Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1982), and The Bad Sister. In 1991, she returned to filmmaking with "Disgraced Monuments," which she co-directed with Mark Lewis.

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