Revaluating History, Memory and Archive in Cinema, Performing Arts and Visual Culture

organized by Babeș-Bolyai University, Faculty of Theater and Television
and G. Oprescu Institute of Art History

May 18-19, 2018

Call for Papers

Recent developments in academic scholarship and artistic practices in various fields have seen an increasing interest in the productive and intellectual potential of interpreting history, memory and archive. This preoccupation opened up a wide space of analysis and debate that sees the past not only as a passive “has-been” but rather as a probable “would be” – for better or worse. It is noteworthy that one of the most frequent warnings today regarding the political evolution in certain contexts points to the risk of repeating the past – about making the present an uncritical and blind “Copy-Past.” However, internalizing the significant moments of the past is part of our contemporary cultural construction in which history, memory and archive are the catalysts for some of the most progressive endeavours. The idea synthesized by the phrase “Copy-Past” is, after all, the motor of our cultural system of representation, the source-model conceived and symbolized through—and departing from—the indicators of the past.

The conference Copy-Past – Memory, archive, revaluations in cinema, performing arts and visual culture proposes a double articulation of the concept of past: it proposes equally a discourse of history and a discourse on history. That is, on the one hand, it proposes a discussion addressing the historical factuality (and its historiographic understandings) as well as the mechanisms to work, interpret and visualize historical facts and their relevance in contemporary artistic practice and critical thinking. On the other hand, it proposes to reflect on the methodological and theoretical interpretations stemming from and critically departing from various historicist approaches. More precisely, it expects to theorize on the very possibility of historicity: the interpreting solutions addressing the evolution of ideas, methodologies and systems of historical and critical research of artistic creation, in relation to the social and political contexts.

Topics could include,
but are not restricted to:

  • Appropriation and recycling images
  • Adaptation and remediation in cinema, theatre and visual culture
  • Critical re-evaluations of artistic production: between ethics and aesthetics.
  • The critical discourse as interface between the artist and the audience
  • Criticism and normativity: what history has to do with it
  • New Historicism 2.0.
  • Media archaeology
  • Found footage film and alternative history
  • Preservation / archiving historical artistic production.
  • Curatorship - capitalizing the artistic heritage.
  • Historical "truth" vs. the transmedial question
  • Post-production as post-history
  • New-new historicism
  • Collective memories vs. Collected memories


Abstract and keywords submission deadline: February 15, 2018.

The abstracts (maximum 2000 characters), accompanied by keywords, will be sent to the organizers by February 15, 2018 at the following addresses:,

Accepted participants will be notified by March 15, 2018.

The final form of the papers (formatted according to the latest Chicago Manual of Style) will be sent to the organizers until the beginning of the conference.

Accepted papers will then be subject to a peer-reviewed process, and the selected papers will be published in a conference proceedings volume by the end of 2018.


  • Academics / researchers: 100 Euros
  • PhD candidates: 70 Euros
  • MA students: 50 Euros

Proposals for accepted works from the organizing institutions are exempt from the participation fee.

The payment of the fee must be received between 15 March and 1 May. The participation fee covers the costs of logistics, equipment and promotion, 2 coffee-breaks and lunch. The accommodation and transport costs will be supported by the participants.

Keynote speakers – presentations

18 May 2018

Duška Radosavljević

Reader in Contemporary Theatre and Performance.

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London 

Theatre after Gutenberg

The days of hopeful enthusiasm sparked by Internet 2.0 are drawing to an end. Former joys of the crowdsourcing model of authorship are giving way to worries around data harvesting. The heyday of blogging has been eclipsed by the unsolvable problem of its financial sustainability. In the aftermath of fake news, the rise of populism and possible demise of Facebook – what possible advantages are still to be gained by the World Wide Web?

Rooted in the ideas developed by Suerberg and Pettit (2010) via Ong (1982) and McLuhan (1962), that technological developments of the 21st century have created opportunities for us to re-emancipate theatre from the predominance of the written text, this paper traces and confronts possible ways in which this emancipation from textual superiority manifests itself. In more specific terms, the paper seeks to contextualise certain trends – occurring concurrently and seemingly unaware of each other in various cultural contexts – which include an emphasis on immersivity, corporeality and aurality as opposed to literacy per se.

The question arises: is this a viable way forward or a nostalgic revisiting of the distant past?

19 May 2018

Erika Balsom

Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

King’s College London

Refractions of the ‘Poor Image’: The Promises and Problems of the Low-Quality Copy

Alongside and against a dominant narrative that sees the transition to digital imaging as necessarily tied to increased image definition, there is another history of the passage from analogue to digital, one that is founded in augmenting the possibilities of access and circulation. It is a history of pixelated images and lossy compression, a history of what artist and theorist Hito Steyerl has termed “poor images.” Low fidelity files are smaller files, which means they can travel faster across networks, be copied faster from one device to another, and take up less space when stored. They are more likely to be able to travel outside of sanctioned channels, thus making them available to unforeseen audiences and uses.

This presentation will unfold the ambivalent status of the low-quality copy in artists’ moving image practice, showing how it figures as both promise and threat: the low-quality copy offers augmented possibilities of access and can serve as an inscription of circulation histories, but can also figure as a site of unsanctioned use, degraded presentation, and liquidated authenticity.

Organizing comitee

Professor Miruna Runcan, PhD

Romanian-born writer, semiotician and theater critic. She got a PhD in Theater's Aesthetics at the Bucharest University of Theater and Film in 1999 on a complex historical and aesthetic research on the Romanian modern stage-directing and theater theories, from 1920 to 1960. After 1989, she was involved in several activist and theatrical projects, both in media ethics and theater criticism. She published the first Romanian book on media law and ethics, for young journalists (1997, Bucharest, All Publishing House), followed by The Fourth Power: Ethics and Law for Journalists (Cluj, 2002, Dacia Publishing House). After 2001, she is professor at Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj, Romania; she was, between 2009 and 2014 the Head of the Doctoral School of the same university. From 2014, she became the Head of the Theatre Department at the Faculty of Theatre and Television, UBB Cluj. Theater criticism, theatre history, theory and audience studies define her area of teaching. As a researcher, she is interested in theatre history, theatre theory and interdisciplinary studies related to spectatorship in theatre, film and media. In 2004, she starts - together with Romanian playwright and theatre theoretician C.C. Buricea-Mlinarcic - a complex group project, reuniting field research, anthropological analysis and theatre and film creation: the Everyday Life Drama Program. From 2009, the program became the "Everyday Drama Laboratory" of The Theater Research and Creation Center "Vlad Mugur", awarded with several substantial research grants from the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research and from the Ministry of Culture.

Professor Horea Avram PhD

Horea Avram is Assistant Professor at the Department of Cinema and Media, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. PhD in Art History and Communication Studies from McGill University, Montreal. He researches and writes about new media (art), representation theory and visual culture. His most recent publications include “Augmented Reality” in Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); “The Visual Regime of Augmented Space” in Theorizing Visual Studies: Writing Through the Discipline, James Elkins, ed. (New York: Routledge, 2013). He publishes essays in: Cultura: International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology, M/C Media and Culture Journal, International Journal of Arts and Technology, Kinephanos, Ekphrasis. Images, Cinema, Theory, Media, Idea. Art + Society, Arta, etc. He has curated numerous exhibitions, most notably at Venice Biennale in 1999. Research fellow of the New Europe College Institute for advanced study in the humanities and social sciences, 2017-2018.

Professor Claudiu Turcuș PhD

Claudiu Turcuș is Assistant Professor of Literary and Film studies at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He obtained his PhD in Humanities (2011) at Babeș-Bolyai University after a fellowship research at Bard College, New York. His research interests are focused on East-Central European cinema, literature and criticism. He published widely on topics such as the cultural memory of socialism, the representation of postcommunist transition, intellectual history or the ideology of New Romanian Cinema. His book, Norman Manea. Aesthetics as East Ethics (Frakfurt-New York: Peter Lang, 2016) is the very first monograph about life and oeuvre of this important Romanian-American writer, proposed twice for Nobel Prize.


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