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The New Waves

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Organizer: Aleksander Sedzielarz

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Various “new waves” traverse and connect film, music, and fashion around the world. This panel invites contributors to rethink established new waves, discuss research on emerging new waves, and theorize the concept of the wave as grounds for analysis and comparison across forms of cultural production.

The very proliferation of new waves worldwide after the French nouvelle vague (in the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Czechoslovakia, among many other locations), signals a constant flow of artists generating waves as critics identify these movements. Waves resonate, cause reactions, and wash away older conventions of style and aesthetics. Prominent filmic and sonic waves have emerged in London, Hong Kong, Taipei, New York, Prague, and Seoul and deeply mark how these cities look and how their public looks at art.

Although echoing, and sometimes overlapping with, other notions of radical aesthetic change in the twentieth century—such as the “new” in modernism or the emergence of avant-gardes—the idea of a “new wave” is predicated upon vagueness, movement, and an execution of style that clearly breaks with these accounts of culture in modernity. The French nouvelle vague begins as a “tendency” in writing on cinematic style by Alexandre Astruc seized upon in the writings of François Truffaut. The “wave” enters the critical lexicon as André Bazin responds to the polemical politique des auteurs with metaphors of “surges” and “currents” in a sophisticated vision of the social and economic conditions of Hollywood as an influence on French cinema. Antoine de Baecque critiques the French New Wave for latent right-wing politics and the objectification of women’s bodies in film. This, of course, is only one origin story—concerning the relationship of cinema to literature and other visual arts in the French and American context. Although this panel seeks accounts of new waves beyond those confined to French film (or to the medium of film), it welcomes papers that put French filmmakers in dialogue with critical viewpoints from around the world.

Paper topics might include but are not limited to:

Intersections of film, music, and/or fashion in the aesthetics of new waves globally
The music of the New Waves in Britain, Hong Kong, Germany, the United States, Vietnam, and other national or regional contexts, in relation to film or other arts or analyzed comparatively with other new waves
Movements that take up new waves as inspiration, or in resistance, such as the music of No Wave or Synthwave
Comparisons of “waves” with other concepts of cultural change, such as “renaissance,” "revival," “generations,” “novo,” “xin,” or “neo” (for example, neorealism, Cinema Novo, or generations designating directors in mainland Chinese cinema)
Analyses of cultural discourse as linked to discussions of waves in ecocriticism or the physical sciences (engaging qualities of water, sound, or electricity)

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