Call for Papers: Unmade, Unfinished, Unseen: Shadow Histories of Cinema and Television

Unmade, Unfinished, Unseen: Shadow Histories of Cinema and Television is a two day international conference that will take place in September 2020 at De Montfort University and co-organised by Professor Ian Hunter (De Montfort University) and Dr James Fenwick (Sheffield Hallam University). The conference will be the first major gathering of scholars researching the ‘shadow’ histories of film and television.

The conference builds on the burgeoning academic interest in unmade film and television – so-called ‘shadow histories’ – and the cultural logic of failure. Co-organiser Dr James Fenwick is currently co-editing a collection on this topic, Shadow Cinema: Industrial and Production Contexts, for publication with Bloomsbury.

The conference invites not only traditional academic papers and case studies of individual unmade films, but also papers that consider how we can even understand the notion of the ‘unmade’ and of the cultural artefacts that now remain of these ‘lost’ projects in archives around the world. A key aspect of unmade studies is the way we can interpret and utilise archival material in new, even creative ways, such as staged performances of scripts.

In addition, while a lot of scholarly interest has centred on the unrealised films and TV programmes of significant directors and writers, we also recognise that research is needed into wider issues around ‘unproduction studies’, such as career breaks, cultures of script development, development hell, and the industrial logic of failure.

We invite submission of conference proposals of 250 words, along with a 100-word biography, that address any aspect of unmade cinema and television. Abstracts should be sent to Dr James Fenwick by 31 January 2020.

Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Gendered / racial inequalities and unmade projects
  • Case studies of unrealised screenplays, screen treatments, passion projects etc.
  •  Gate-keeping in media industries (agents, script readers etc.)
  • Methodologies for using unmade screenplays as a resource for scholarly research
  • Actual or possible realisations of unmade projects
  • Fandom and the resurrection of unmade projects
  • The unmade as alternative or counterfactual media history
  • The literary status of unproduced screenplays
  • Industrial perspectives
  • The ‘Black List’ of most liked unproduced screenplays
  • Archival approaches to the study of the unmade
  • Creative failure
  • Creative practice and the unmade

The conference will include keynote talks from Dr Shelley Cobb (Southampton) and Professor Andrew Spicer (UWE Bristol), with further industrial keynotes to be announced in due course.