Willson Center Cinema Roundtable

The Willson Center Cinema Roundtable meets to discuss topics of film history, criticism and theory. Richard Neupert, Wheatley Professor of the Arts, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor and film studies coordinator in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, organizes and moderates one roundtable each semester. Chris Sieving, associate professor of theatre and film studies, hosted an additional roundtable in fall 2015.

2016-2017

Cinema Roundtable – “Nat Turner’s Rebellion and the (New) Birth of a Nation”

November 11, 2016 @ 4:00pm, Miller Learning Center Room 250

The Birth of a Nation is a provocative new movie on every level. Nate Parker writes, directs, and produces the film, in addition to starring as Nat Turner. His movie won both the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and its Audience Award. The movie has been celebrated for its powerful treatment of religion and slavery, though concerns over Parker’s own personal history accumulated as the movie approached its national release. As Variety’s review states: “The Birth of a Nation will provoke a serious debate about empathy, the morality of retaliatory violence, and the ongoing black struggle for justice and equality in this country.” This panel will address the themes, style, and reception of Parker’s adaptation of Nat Turner’s story.

The Willson Center Cinema Roundtable panel includes Valerie Babb (Institute for African American Studies and English), Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin (African American Studies and Theatre and Film Studies), Ed Pavlic (English and Creative Writing), and Christopher Sieving (Theatre and Film Studies). Richard Neupert (Coordinator, Film Studies) hosts the roundtable. The roundtable is free and open to the public, which will be invited to join the discussion.

Birth of a Nation

2015-2016

Cinema Roundtable – “Animated Comic Attractions & Early Cinema”

January 29, 2016

From its beginnings, cinema was influenced by other popular arts, especially caricature and comic strips. Many key filmmakers, including Emile Cohl in France and America’s Windsor McCay, adapted comic strip traditions into stunning motion picture “attractions.” This roundtable discusses how silent cinema reworked some of the graphic traditions and story content of comic strips from their era.

Visiting scholar Tom Gunning (University of Chicago) joined panelists Rielle Navitski (Film Studies) and Chris Pizzino (English), for this roundtable moderated by Richard Neupert (Film Studies). Gunning’s visit was sponsored by a Willson Center Short Term Visiting Fellowship and the Interdisciplinary Modernism/s research cluster.

Windsor McKay - Watch Me Move

Cinema and Media Roundtable – “Amy Schumer: Queen of Comedy”

October 16, 2015

By any reasonable standard, 2015 has been comedian Amy Schumer’s year.  She hosted MTV’s Video Music Awards, graced the covers of magazines from GQ to Glamour to Entertainment Weekly, and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.  Her cheerfully profane, sketch comedy series Inside Amy Schumer won a Peabody Award and was renewed for a fourth season on Comedy Central.  And her subversive romantic comedy Trainwreck, which she wrote and starred in, was released in July to stellar reviews and an eventual gross of $100 million-plus.

The cultural significance of Schumer’s remarkable career trajectory is the subject of a Cinema and Media Studies Roundtable, “Amy Schumer: Queen of Comedy.”  Panelists will discuss a variety of issues related to Schumer’s recently attained status as, in the words of Entertainment Weekly, “comedy’s funny, filthy, fearless new voice.”  What does her crossover success — on stage, on screen, and online — mean for the acceptance of women in comedy and in entertainment media in general?  Does her current ubiquity represent significant gains for feminist ideas in the arena of popular culture?  And is her work genuinely transgressive, or does her irresponsible party girl persona weaken her effectiveness as a feminist role model?  These and related questions were addressed by panelists Christine Becker (University of Notre Dame), Jeffrey Jones (Director, Peabody Awards, UGA), Caren Pagel (Georgia State University), and Ethan Thompson (Research and Teaching Fellow, Peabody Awards, UGA).  Christopher Sieving (Theatre and Film Studies, UGA) moderated.

Amy Schumer and Bill Hader

Cinema Roundtable – “Roland Barthes at 100: Theory / Culture / Legacy”

October 23, 2015

Roland Barthes (b. 1915) was one of the 20th century’s most influential theorists. His work shaped literary theory as it shifted from structuralism and semiotics to psychoanalysis and cultural theory. His many important books include MythologiesOn RacineS/ZImage / Music / Text, The Pleasure of the Text, and Camera Lucida. This panel discussed the continuing relevance of Barthes for theoretical research on literature and culture today. Panelists included Doris Kadish (Romance Languages), Jed Rasula (English), and Andrew Zawacki (English). Richard Neupert (Film Studies) moderated.

Roland Barthes

2014-2015

Cinema Roundtable – “Toy Story Turns 20: How Significant Was Pixar’s First Feature Film?”

April 3, 2015

When Toy Story premiered in 1995 critics celebrated it as the dawn of a new era for motion picture animation. Toy Story also helped launch Pixar as the top brand for quality animation. Twenty years later it may be hard to fathom just how revolutionary Pixar’s first feature film was technically, but also culturally.

This roundtable discussed the significance of Toy Story for computer animation and Hollywood storytelling today. Panelists included Michael Hussey (Theatre and Film Studies), David Nix (Animator, College of Education), and Joelle Arp-Dunham (Theatre and Film Studies). Richard Neupert (Coordinator, Film Studies) hosted the panel.

Toy Story