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Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and The Arts Events, 2019/2020

Unless otherwise stated, CRPLA seminars take place on Tuesdays, 5:30-7:00pm in Room S0.11 (ground floor of Social Studies). All welcome. For further information, please contact Diarmiud Costello:

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CRPLA Seminar: Catherine Wheatley (KCL), 'Green means go. A brief cultural history of the green light'

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Location: A0.23 (Soc Sci)

Abstract: Every small child knows that green means go. Green lights stand at crossings, intersections, and entrances, signaling permission to move forward, to continue our journey or embark upon a new one. So potent is their symbolism that the object has become a verb. To greenlight is to give the go-ahead, at least to certain persons and activities. Greenlighting a project ushers it into existence.

But where did they come from, these green lights, which originally signalled “caution” – or even “stop”? And how have they shaped the ways we think about matters of freedom, control and consent? Following a road lined with green lights taken from film, literature, TV and pop music, leading from the 19th century Houses of Parliament to contemporary Los Angeles, this paper asks where the green light has led us so far, and what its future projections might be.

Catherine Wheatley is Reader in Film and Visual Culture at King’s College London. She has published widely on questions pertaining to film, ethics and aesthetics. Catherine is the author of four monographs, including Michael Haneke’s Cinema: The Ethic of the Image (Oxford: Berghahn, 2009); the BFI Classics book on Caché (London: BFI Publishing, 2013), and Stanley Cavell and Film: Scepticism and Self-Reliance at the Cinema (London: Bloomsbury, 2018) Catherine also writes regularly for Sight & Sound magazine, and is a convenor of the BFI’s Philosophical Screens series.

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