Inaugural Event

We have submitted a bid to help formally launch the Unit on Friday 24 April 2009. The launch will host an internationally renowned scholar, such as Professor Amelia Jones, to give a paper, followed by a discussion.

The date has been carefully selected to articulate with the launch evening of the New Extremism Conference, also being hosted by Anglia Ruskin University on 24-25 April 2009. The agendas of the two events are closely connected through their broad themes of representation, identity and body and we hope that such a critical mass of scholars will boost both forums. On a more detailed level the two events would raise questions and set up a critical enquiry into the notion of ‘extreme’ representation, particularly in relation to the body. The film conference is specifically looking at graphic representations of sex and violence but the theme would allow RIB to look at the issue of ‘extremism’ within a broader remit, spanning notions of extreme performance and theatre practice, extreme music, extreme artistic practices and so on. We anticipate that the notion of ‘extremism’ would encourage a diverse and eclectic response from an interdisciplinary perspective.

On the evening of Friday 24 April, the co-organisers of the New Extremism Conference are planning to hold an inaugural lecture, followed by a drinks reception. Participants in the RIB activities in the afternoon would therefore be invited to join these events and continue with their dialogue and exchange within a wider group. In this way, we can host an international event, which will broaden the scope of RIB beyond Faculty and University boundaries.

The event will also integrate artistic practice within its schedule, so that the key themes of interdisciplinarity and practice-as-research can also be explored. Dr Kerstin Bueschges is considering re-staging her 12-hour durational performance work, Mapping Maternity, as part of the launch. This would provide a creative hub for the launch and broaden the scope of the dialogue between participants. In engaging with critical approaches to both theory and practice, we hope to develop this unique and innovative part of the work of the Unit.

R.I.B. participants would be invited from a broad range of national and international institutions, alongside freelance practitioners and creative artists. By April 2009, we hope to have an advisory panel in place that would also represent this diversity and develop international cultural exchange. 


The New Extremism: Contemporary European Cinema

Keynote Speakers:  Dr Martine Beugnet, Edinburgh University

        Professor Martin Barker, University of Aberystwyth

 In recent years, the term ‘new extremism’ has been used to describe (and often to decry) a growing body of films featuring extreme and graphic representations of sexuality and violence, seemingly designed with the chief aim in mind of shocking or provoking spectators.  The list of filmmakers frequently assembled under this rubric is quite diverse, but often includes Catherine Breillat, Gaspar Noé, Michael Haneke, Bruno Dumont, Fatih Akin, Claire Denis, Philippe Grandrieux, Lukas Moodysson, Marina de Van, François Ozon and Lars Von Trier, to name a few.

Although the films of the new extremism have been decried as reactionary and ostentatious, the recent upsurge of rigorous scholarly attention devoted to this body of work challenges reductive assertions, and confirms the relevance of such provocative and polemical filmmaking. Beyond mere shock tactics, what do these brutal and uncompromising films bring to understandings of cinema today? How do these films solicit, and help to shape, new modes of spectatorship and new ways of relating to cinema?

The aim of this conference is to explore and theorize the paradigm of the new extremism in contemporary European cinema. What new challenges do these filmmakers bring to our understanding of issues of embodiment and intimacy, violation and volition? How do such uncompromising images respond to, or seek to intervene into a set of socio-political and economic realities? In what ways do these films move beyond binaries of passivity and activity, voyeurism and masochism?

With these and other relevant questions in mind, we invite papers that critically examine the ‘new extremism’ in contemporary European cinema.  Possible topics may also include (but are by no means restricted to) the following:

Issues of spectatorship

The ethics of extremism and the ‘ethical turn’ in critical and cultural theory

Feminist and psychoanalytic approaches

Questions of trauma (psychological, corporeal, national, historical)

Debates about cinematic realism, materiality and the Real

Theories of sensation and affect

New approaches to sexuality and violence

Temporal/spatial formations in the new extremism

Issues of political agency and social exclusion

Influences on the new extremism: mainstream and avant-garde traditions

Reception studies

Questions of authorship


Proposals (up to 500 word abstracts) should be sent by November 21st, 2008 to:

Tanya Horeck (

Tina Kendall (

Sarah Barrow (

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