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This week, my home university, Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy, is partnering with the University of Waterloo to host Canada's major humanities conference, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Basically, all the individual national scholarly organizations -like mine, the Film Studies Association of Canada- get together an hold their annual conferences at the same time in one place. We'll have over 7000 people this year, which is a massive conference by Canadian standards. (Though it makes me smile to realize what a small fraction of Comiket's 500,000 attendees that is!)

There will be a lot of live blogging and tweeting of this event, but I don't think I'll be one of the avid bloggers. Maybe I'll do a sum-up at the end, especially of the panel on "Anime/Comics: Appropriation and Adaptation." But since this is more an anime blog than an aca blog, I'll keep it low key.

That said, my presentation in a panel on post-cinematic adaptation is half about Satoshi Kon, so I have no problems posting my proposal/abstract here, for anyone who's interested!



Digital Dreams and the Nostalgia for Cinema in Hugo and Paprika

In their seminal book Remediation, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin argue that “What is new about new media comes from the particular ways in which they refashion older media and the ways in which older media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media” (15). The process of remediation is not necessarily a smooth one, but may be “ambivalent and contradictory” (4), pulled between a number of shifting impulses. These ambivalences, I argue, reflect the broader anxieties and aspirations that arise in times of technological and social transition, such as the changes brought about by the digitization of media at the turn of the twenty-first century. Digital cinema in particular reflects the intertwining of social and technological “psyches”: the perceptions and affects created by a media environment that wavers between the indelible permanence of recurring trauma found in vanished films that can’t be forgotten, and the unstable, transitory quality of endlessly-manipulable digital dreams.

This paper explores the particular ways in which digital cinema refashions celluloid cinema through the highly ambivalent affect of nostalgia. As prime examples of remediated nostalgia, it considers two film adaptations of novels about media: Kon Satoshi’s animated film Paprika (2006; based on the 1993 novel Paprika by Tsutsui Yasutaka) and Martin Scorsese’s 3D release Hugo (2011; based on the 2007 novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick). Both films depict characters who attempt to recover their connections to a lost friend or parent by recovering celluloid films, either memories of Super 8 experiments or early silent film prints. Even as these works revel in showcasing digital effects beyond the capabilities of their print and film predecessors, such as sophisticated layering and impossible tracking shots, they betray a desire for what has been left behind: the imperfect yet intimate materiality of the analog print. Paprika and Hugo thus establish a delicate tension between transcending celluloid cinema and longing for its return; recovery and loss of cinema’s historical memory; between the very concepts of the old and the new in media themselves. In drawing on these two examples, this paper will reveal the particular ways in which nostalgic remediation manifests in animated and live-action digital cinemas.
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