Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Chris Lippard

Division of Film Studies of University of Utah

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Biographical Note

Chris Lippard holds a Ph.D in Film, Literature, and Culture from the University of Southern California. He is currently Assistant Professor of Film Studies and Director of Graduate Studies in Film at the University of Utah. He has published work on Derek Jarman, Dennis Potter, and F.W. Murnau and Jorge Sanjines and has essays forthcoming on Abas Kiarostami, and Michael Moore. He was co-chair of the SCMS Middle East caucus from 2004-2007 and is currently at work on a book regarding the cinemas of the Middle East. His interest in identity issues in popular film in the United States is also reflected in recent papers on CRASH, BABEL and THE NAMESAKE. He is past chair of the Utah Film and Video Center, a space for the presentation of non-commercial cinema and the rental of equipment to members of the community.

Research Interests

My various research projects are linked by a concern with conceptions of identity - through national, ethnic and political positions, as expressed in real and metaphoric environments. Thus Derek Jarman, upon whose work I have published, positioned himself as Queer, but also as quintessentially English in contradistinction to the prevailing notions of Englishness espoused by the Thatcherite state. My contributions to the study of hybridity in the Americas rely on similar concerns, as, of course, does any substantive study of the relationship between filmmakers and the Islamic Republic in Iran. One of the guiding epistemological assumptions of my work on Middle Eastern film is the transnational and diasporic nature of much of the cinema from the region. Indeed, this can be said of much of the most important cinematic work being produced around the world today, in terms of its subject-matter and/or the circumstances of its production. Furthermore, this emphasis is central to many of the most significant theoretical approaches currently being undertaken in Film Studies and is reflected in my recent work on the film, Babel, on Murnau's journey from Bielefeld to the South Seas via Babelsburg and Hollywood, and on the representation of the other in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. This approach also informs my involvement in the evolving sub-discipline of place studies. I am currently working, alongside colleagues from the University of Central Florida and Arizona State University, to establish a conference series called Flickering Landscapes, which studies the environment of the Western United States as it has been - and very much continues to be - used in cinema.

Contribution to the Research Group

At the opening conference of the research group, I discussed recent Hollywood films, Babel, The Namesake and Quinceanera in terms of their positioning of dominant cultures and sub-cultures, and their analysis of identity formation within and against transcultural and transnational practices. At an earlier related conference I discussed the depiction of the United States and of the English language in some Bolivian films. Together these two approaches illustrate the contribution I will bring to the group: how are individuals, groups and systems envisaged and negotiated by each other and how are these processes depicted in the formal strategies - use of color, visual metaphor, narrative design etc. - of cinema, whether industrial, (in)dependent, or oppositional? In particular, I hope to extend my examination of how the control of space, whether domestic, work, or for leisure, is used in film to shape, refine and deflect ethnic and other means of identification. This analysis is set in the context of the diminished importance of national geographical borders in the modern world, as capital, people, commodities, ideas, and various other resources of power are enabled - or, indeed forced - to move inter- as well as intra-nationally. At the same time, it recognizes a second attribute of transnational study: the fluid, interconnected character of much cultural activity, especially with respect to its appeal to, or production by exilic and diasporic communities.

Relevant Publications

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