Call for Papers – Epistolary culture. Correspondence as a form and practice of film criticism

Edited by Michele Guerra (Università di Parma) and Sara Martin (Università di Parma)

The history of Italian film criticism holds exemplary and well-known cases of relevant letters sent to film journals by directors, actors, actresses, producers, as well as critics of other periodicals, other countries, and, most interesting, other cultural or political orientation.
The letter as a medium implies a peculiar critical and dialogical attitude, often more suitable than others to have an impact on the debate and to bring out nodal issues capable of shedding a different light on the study of the reception both of films and authors.

It is important to emphasize the role that such an “epistolary culture” has had in the tradition of Italian film criticism, which also includes, no less important, the correspondence that most of the film and miscellaneous periodicals have been developing with the community of their readers.

The correspondence as a form of participation in the critical debate on cinema has characterized the life (and, to some extent, the line) of many periodicals, representing a moment of crucial welding between the critical practice and the coeval Italian cultural debate.

In the wide and articulated field of study on film criticism — which characterizes one of the major research lines of the last years — correspondence as a critical form presents itself as an innovative and often unsettling investigative tool to be compared to the official critical thought. Furthermore, it offers new perspectives of analysis on the forms of reception of films, both for what concerns the forms of relationship with authors, actors and characters, and for what concerns the history of costume.

It is indeed a hidden debate, which over the years it has been drowned by the one, easier to be mapped, which emerges from the programmatic and most recognizable lines of the various periodical. The debate triggered by correspondences strengthens its relevance when we include in such a field of analysis the letters, sometimes even more intimate and confidential, sent to the periodicals editors in chief and contributors, both from readers, and from colleagues and artists. As film scholars gradually cope with the private archives of Italian film critics, these new materials widen in a very meaningful way the epistolary culture of Italian film criticism.

The special section of issue 15 of Cinergie intends to collect contributions focused mainly, but not exclusively, on the following points:

  • The epistolary culture in the tradition of Italian film criticism;
  • The letter as critical form;
  • The letter as critical training;
  • The letter as a chance for official dialogue between periodicals;
  • The letter as a space of confrontation with artists and producers;
  • The construction of the community of readers through correspondence;
  • The periodical as the place of mediation through correspondence with the protagonists of film industry;
  • Correspondence as a place of expression and elaboration of readers' desire;
  • The correspondence with the readers as the place of consensus building and control of dissent;
  • Epistolary exchanges in the archives of the film critics.

Submission Details and Journal Deadlines

Please send an abstract and a short biographical note to michele.guerra@unipr.it and sara.martin@unipr.it by October 20, 2018.

Abstracts should be from 300 to 500 words of length (English and Italian).

If the proposal is accepted, the author(s) will be asked to submit the full article by January 31, 2019.

The articles must not exceed 35.000 characters (spaces and notes included).

Contributions will be submitted to double blind peer review.

The issue number 15 of Cinergie will be published in June 2019.