David Martin-Jones – Telling the Story of History with (to, or by) the Child: Non-National, National, and Transnational Takes

Event Date: 18-19 April 2016

Management Building Auditorium

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX

The School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway presents:

Childhood and Nation in World Cinema

Borders and Encounters since 1980

Professor David Martin-Jones (University of Glasgow) – Telling the Story of History with (to, or by) the Child: Non-National, National, and Transnational Takes

The size, complexity and richness of a world of cinemas make it extremely difficult to chart how the child is depicted, globally, in any all-encompassing way. Yet by focusing on clusters of films which feature the child, as a way of sorting or taxonomising, we can better understand the different ways in which the story of history (its cinematic manifestation so famously explored by Hayden White, Robert Rosenstone, Marcia Landy, Robert Burgoyne et al.) is told in such films. This paper will explore three such clusters, focusing on recent representative examples: national (the Brazilian film The Year My Parents went on Vacation (2006)), non-national (the Scottish-Gaelic film Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle (2007)), and transnational (the Uruguayan horror La Casa Muda/The Silent House (2010)).   Such an approach to sorting a world of cinemas should not suggest that the topic of the child is not in itself of key importance. In fact, what is evident across such difference is that the story of history being told through the child often has a relationship to generational difference (the story of history is often also being told to the child, at other times by the child), which can help explain why many such films foreground temporality (above and beyond the association of childhood with a less structured sense of time than that of adulthood). When viewed together, “across borders”, can this generational relationship help explain why, in their engagement with history, these various clusters challenge any too neat an association of childhood and nation in world cinemas?

David Martin-Jones is Professor of Film Studies, University of Glasgow. His specialism is film-philosophy, and his research engages with world cinemas. He is the author of several books, including Deleuze and World Cinemas (2011) (shortlisted for the BAFTSS Annual Book Award). He is co-editor of various anthologies and special editions along with the Bloomsbury monograph series Thinking Cinema and the online research resource deleuzecinema.com.

Introduction by Professor Emma Wilson (Cambridge):

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