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Is a history of the gaze possible? Cinema at the heart of visual culture

Une histoire du regard est-elle possible ?

Le cinéma au cœur de la « culture visuelle »

*  *  *

Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Visual Culture Studies recently gained substantial academic credit, especially beyond French borders. This ascent comes with epistemological problems, since older theoretical approaches and sciences already deal with visual culture – at least, history of art, history of audiences, iconology, Media and Cultural Studies, aesthetics, anthropology... Conceptual tools and case studies may eventually help building a unified history of the gaze, but this would take a gigantic interdisciplinary work, not to mention the question of the incommensurability between paradigms. Due to the size of the considered field, our Nancy symposium will mainly focus on those changes of the gaze which may have been caused by cinema, or emerged between the end of the nineteenth century and now.



“A truly new art would be like a new sense organ : Film has now become that new organ”, wrote Béla Balázs in 1930. Because of movies, one does not look at the world the same way anymore, since close-ups, tracking shots and editing are re-displaying our everyday landscapes. Hence, cinema has to be added to the list of “oculists”, as Marcel Proust set it up – Proust had in mind great Impressionnist painters whose manner literally shaped our gaze and led us to appreciate what formerly seemed too mundane to be noticed or too confused to be considered. Not to mention non-artistic novelties, such as the plane: Walter Benjamin himself gave his approval to Belgian psychologist Henri Wallon when the latter wrote in 1936 that “travelling by plane ineluctably modified our gaze”. Does that mean the eye is so workable it can be so quickly shifted by culture? Does any Zeitgeist always include a new set of glasses? If so, history and study of the gaze seems like a task worth considering. But what if all those assertions should rather be read figuratively?


Main topics

Our topics include, but are not limited to:

  • “Archeology of the gaze”

  • History of styles

  • Historical variability of taste

  • Intermediality

  • How to define a “gaze”? Whose gaze is it, indeed, and how to define the community

    sharing this gaze? Belonging to a nation, an era, a sex, a gender, a race, a class?

  • What kind of contribution can the Moving Image Studies bring to our reflection? What kind of interdisciplinary method would give the best results? ...

The sessions will not be arranged on the basis of traditional divisions between academic disciplines, but rather thematically : our goal is to enhance interdisciplinary dialogue and we encourage interdisciplinary perspectives.

Submission guidelines

The languages of the conference are French and English. The proposal should be in the same language as the conference presentation. There is no conference fee.

The proposals must be sent to : histoire.du.regard@gmail.com.

Deadline is August 1st, 2016.  

The internation conference will be held on the 5th and 6th january at Nancy

Organisint committee

Laurent Jullier, Vincent Lowy, Aurore Renaut

Scientific committee

  • Martin Barnier (Université Lumière – Lyon 2),
  • Béatrice Fleury (Université de Lorraine),
  • François Jost (Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle),
  • Laurent Le Forestier (Université de Haute-Bretagne – Rennes 2),
  • Anja Laukötter (Max-Planck-Institut fur Bildungsforschung – Allemagne),
  • Martin Lefebvre (Université Concordia – Canada),
  • Philippe Met (Penn Arts and Sciences – E.U.),
  • Claude Nosal (Université de Haute-Alsace – Mulhouse),
  • Roger Odin (Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle),
  • Viva Paci UQAM – Canada),
  • Katalin Por (Université de Lorraine),
  • Angel Quintana (Université de Gérone – Espagne),
  • Guillaume Soulez (Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle),
  • Pia Tikka (Aalto University - Finlande),
  • Tony Tracy (NUI Galway – Irlande)
  • Jacques Walter (Université de Lorraine)

Keynote Speaker

Thomas Elsaesser (Université d’Amsterdam, Pays-Bas) * 


  • Aumont Jacques, L’Image, Paris, Armand Colin, 2011.
  • Belting Hans, Pour une anthropologie des images, Paris, Gallimard, 2004.
  • Bredekamp Horst, Théorie de l'acte d'image, Paris, La Découverte, 2015.
  • Crary Jonathan, Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2000.
  • Elkins James, Visual Studies. A Skeptical Introduction, New York, 2003.
  • Friedberg Anne, The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft, Cambridge, MIT Cambridge, MIT Press, 2000, 2006.
  • Havelange Carl, De l'œil et du monde. Une histoire du regard au seuil de la modernité, Paris, Fayard, 1998.
  • Mitchell, WJT, What do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2005.
  • Sauvageot Anne, Voirs et Savoirs. Esquisse d’une sociologie du regard, Paris, PUF, 1994. 


  • Institut Européen et Cinéma et d'Audiovisuel - 10 rue Michel Ney
    Nancy, France (54)


  • Monday, August 01, 2016


  • Cinéma ; Culture visuelle ; Cultural studies ; Visual studies ; Media studies


  • Aurore Renaut
    courriel : aurore [dot] renaut [at] univ-lorraine [dot] fr

Information source

  • Aurore Renaut
    courriel : aurore [dot] renaut [at] univ-lorraine [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Is a history of the gaze possible? Cinema at the heart of visual culture », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, https://doi.org/10.58079/v51

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