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LAST CALL Call For Papers: HIGH/LOW – Berkeley Graduate Conference in Film & Media

Call for Papers: UC Berkeley Film & Media Graduate Conference, February 8-9, 2019

HIGH/LOW Taste, Quality, and Resolution in Film and Media

A degraded film strip. A lossy jpeg. A pirated cassette tape. An HBO drama. A Tomatometer rating. An
amateur YouTube video. Questions of quality, taste, and resolution have been key to discourses about the
moving image from cinema’s early days. Twenty-first century changes to our media environment replay
debates about quality and resolution that have long circulated around the cinema. The 2019 Berkeley Film &
Media Graduate Conference seeks to put into dialogue ideas of taste, quality, and resolution in form and
content from the standpoint of the digital age. HIGH/LOW asks how historical understandings of quality,
value, and taste persist or are challenged by emerging medial forms.

Media technologies have become increasingly relevant to fraught questions of access, inclusion, and
exclusion. What is the role of so-called gatekeepers in the contemporary reception of media? How do big
data and algorithmic curation determine formulas for value that function as criteria for ‘quality’? How do
useful and non-theatrical media forms feature into debates of quality? To what extent have digital
technologies opened up new avenues for creation and circulation of content by amateurs and marginalized
groups? What role does resolution/bandwidth play in the creation or dissemination of content? Have new
forms of distribution and curation democratized viewing practices or siloed audiences into personalized echo
chambers? What role do platforms have in determining how a given media is perceived in algorithmic

We welcome submissions that deal with contemporary issues as well as those that look at the historical
progression of taste, quality and resolution, in cinematic as well as other medial forms.
Potential topics for papers might include:

§ Popular and unpopular media: economic
and critical reception
§ Resolution and fidelity: HD, glitch, noise
§ Professionalism and amateurism
§ Algorithmic curation and big data
§ Effects of new models of exhibition and
distribution, e.g. subscription services
§ Canon formation

§ Cultural exclusion and inclusion: excess,
limits, and norms
§ Third cinema’s critiques of technically
perfect cinema
§ Marginalized media forms
§ Historical articulations of taste: cult,
camp, kitsch, middlebrow
§ Failed or impossible restorations

§ Media teleologies of progress and
§ The politics of media access
§ “Quality” or “prestige” television

§ Social media and audience segmentation
§ Failed and forgotten media technologies
§ Useful/nontheatrical media
§ Media piracy and global circulation

We welcome papers from all disciplinary backgrounds and encourage scholarship grounded in area studies
from non-EuroAmerican contexts. Although this is a graduate student conference, we invite lecturers,
adjuncts, and other non-tenure­track faculty to apply. To submit, please send an abstract of 200–300 words,
along with a brief biographical statement to by November 15, 2018.

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