Call for Papers: Cinema & Nostalgia

The University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute Invites You to

Cinema & Nostalgia
A Graduate Colloquium

“I know what it's like to be in one place and dream of another. I also know what it's like to feel that nostalgia is a fairly useless thing because it is stasis... cinema, something I am afflicted by, is something that lends its beautiful voice to this phenomenon of being in many places at once.”
Mira Nair

“Some people would call this reincarnation... but sometimes you feel that there are other worlds inside you that you can’t reach. I think that kind of feeling is basically a feeling of nostalgia, of loss, of the soul that is locked into a machine and desperately tries to come out.”
Paul Verhoeven

These quotations come from very different filmmakers, both of whom address nostalgia as an affliction, universal yet subjective, isolating and fragmenting. Yet, as we consider the cinema as the ideal way of not merely representing but conjuring nostalgia an attraction to it is often revealed. While most explicit in the genre of Nostalgia Films (like The Last Picture Show and American Graffiti), our feelings for the past pervade even our postmodern moment, reaching, as Verhoeven suggests, into the futuristic action-schlock of Robocop. Taking up his machine metaphor, we ask: what role does nostalgia play in the production and reception of the filmic text? Just how universal is this feeling? If this feeling is so often spoken against, under what conditions might it be welcome? Does it vary across cultures? How do films operate to salve or strengthen it?

This conference supports a diverse approach to these questions and more, and encourages submissions from all disciplines and faculties so that we might best flesh out the full character of nostalgia and its relationship with the cinema.



Possible inquiries could address (but are not limited to):

  • representations of children (versus adults)
  • the role of memory in comprehending narrative
  • the effect of flashback sequences
  • Home Movies
  • the influence of nostalgia in critical discourse, its (im)propriety
  • travel narratives: odysseys, exiles, time travel

Please submit your abstract, up to 250 words, to
by January 30th (new deadline), 2012 to be considered

for a Graduate Colloquium to be held on March 16th and 17th, 2012.


*Accepted abstracts will be notified early February.
Please contact
if you have any questions.


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