The First International Berkeley Conference on Silent Cinema

Eileen Percy, from the front cover of Brazilian film fan magazine A Scena Muda, 1921, available from

A call for papers has been issued for what is being billed as the First International Berkeley Conference on Silent Cinema. Conferences specifically on silent cinema don’t come around too often, and the suggestion that this might be the first in a series is certainly exciting news. The conference will take place 24-26 February 2011 at Berkeley, University of California and the Pacific Film Archive, and has the title Cinema Across Media: The 1920s. Here’s the conference blurb:

Cinema’s institutional consolidation in the 1920s enlisted practitioners from many other fields and transformed the entire ensemble of established media. Avant-garde cinemas borrowed extensively from a variety of artistic practices, while the “cinematic” became the new standard for both modernist aesthetics and popular culture. Today’s multimedia environment brings cinema of the 1920s into new focus as the site of rich intermedial traffic, especially if the term “media” encompasses not only recording technologies and mass media, such as photography, phonography, radio, and illustrated press, but also the physical materials used for aesthetic expression, such as paint, print, plaster, stone, voice, and bodies.

We welcome proposals from scholars in a variety of disciplines, including music, architecture, literature, art history, theater, dance, and performance studies, and encourage international and comparative perspectives. The temporal boundaries for “the 1920s” include the transition to sound cinema. Workshop proposals from archivists and others interested in present-day media platforms (DVD, Internet, etc.) and their effect on silent film scholarship are welcome. The conference will last two-and-a-half days and include keynote lectures, concurrent panels, workshops, and screenings at the Pacific Film Archive with live musical accompaniment.

Proposals should include a title, an abstract (300 words), a short bio (100 words), and any A/V needs. Proposals must be submitted by October 15, 2010 to Notification will follow by mid-November.

There’s no conference web page as yet, but I’ve added the detail to the Bioscope conferences page and will update details there as and when they are advertised.

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