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Film as Film Today: On the Criticism and Theory of V. F. Perkins

Film as Film Today:
On the Criticism and Theory of V. F. Perkins

Symposium dates: 4-5 September 2018, University of Warwick


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V. F. Perkins (1936-2016) was a foundational figure in the history of British film education, a pioneering theorist of the medium, and among the most insightful and eloquent writers on the art of film. Not least for his co-founding of Warwick’s Department of Film & Television Studies, his historical significance for the fields of film criticism and film study is uncontested. However, while Perkins’ work – particularly the seminal Film as Film (1972) – still influences certain strands of scholarship, its contemporary relevance for critics, theorists, and students is presently underappreciated. This symposium is dedicated to revaluating Perkins’ critical methods and arguments by exploring their continued utility for those studying film, television, audiovisual media, and aesthetics today.

From his writings for Oxford Opinion and Movie in the early 1960s to recent studies such as La Règle du jeu (2012), Perkins progressively refined a sophisticated critical project. A key aspect of his work was its commitment to defining why and how the form of particular films contributes to their aesthetic achievements or limitations. Yet Perkins’ approach was also notable for its specific meta-critical, theoretical, and methodological character. The evaluative criteria he proposed were grounded in the properties of the medium while striving to resist essentialism. Developed via ongoing dialogue with competing aesthetic accounts, Perkins’ criticism and meta-criticism set forth original theories of filmic expression, interpretation, and spectatorship. Perhaps most distinctively, his evaluations and theorising were always embodied in precise, evocative, jargon-free close readings.

Perkins leaves us with a body of work which poses important questions and challenges for the study of film, television, media, and aesthetics today. The aim of this symposium is to grapple with these questions and rise to those challenges by engaging with the nature and implications of Perkins’ proposals and approaches.

You can read the symposium programme here. Confirmed speakers and keynotes include: John Gibbs; Andrew Klevan; Adrian Martin (keynote); Laura Mulvey (keynote); Murray Pomerance; Douglas Pye; Robert B. Ray; William Rothman; Sarah Street; and George Toles (keynote)


Register for the symposium here; the registration fee is £55 for unsalaried/pensioned delegates and £105 for salaried. And you can book on-campus accommodation, as well as attendance at the conference dinner, here. The deadline for both is 24th August.


Organisers: James MacDowell and Andrew Klevan.

Direct queries and comments to: VFPerkinsconference at warwick dot ac dot uk

Supported by:  hrc