JHI Home
About Us
Research Communities
Fellowships & Calls for Funding
Working Groups
Humanities At UofT
Events and Exhibitions

Devouring Images

Devouring Images
170 St. George St., room 100a
Time: Jan 25th, 1:00 pm End: Jan 25th, 5:30 pm
Interest Categories: Visual Studies (UTM), French (FAS), English and Drama (UTM), English (UTSC), English (FAS), Drama, Theatre, Performance Studies (FAS), Critical Theory, Comparative Literature (FAS), Communications, Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (UTM), Cinema, Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC), Art (FAS), 2000-
Symposium about visual images of eating and devouring.

The Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts is pleased to present:

Devouring Images


Session One: 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Luka Arsenjuk (Film Studies, University of Maryland) On Swallowing and Sneezing... and Sergei Eisenstein

Abstract:  What are the meanings of vital and organic functions (such as eating or digestion) insofar as they appear as figures and metaphors in discussions of an aesthetic nature? What must we, at least implicitly, assume about these functions for them to become transferable into a discourse about the production and reception of images? What are the theoretical and political consequences of such a vitalist and organic imaginary in our attempts to think the work of art? To address these questions more specifically, the presentation will turn to the writings of the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein and explore the deployment of certain vitalist figures and organic metaphors in his theoretical work, focusing especially on the role of swallowing, eating, devouring, and cannibalism in his lecture “Imitation as Mastery” (1929) and his late book Nonindifferent Nature (1947), where Eisenstein describes the experience of art in terms of a mutual devouring of man and nature. I will situate these figures used by Eisenstein within what has often been described as his organicist conception of cinematic form. At the end, the paper will turn to yet another, rather morecurious, figure of bodily behavior that also finds its place in Eisenstein’s text—that of sneezing. By juxtaposing sneezing and eating, i.e. by opposing the figure of a convulsive expulsion of a foreign irritant from the body (sneezing) to the figure of the body’s incorporation and assimilation of what lies outside it (eating), one can perhaps begin to trace the outline of yet another conception of form in Eisenstein, an idea of form that is far more unruly and relevant for us today than the outdated (in)corporative organicism with which Eisenstein has typically been associated.

Respondent: James Cahill (Cinema Studies and French, Toronto)


Session Two:  3:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

Eugenie Brinkema (Literature, MIT) Digestion and the Diagram: Or, The Human Centipede

Abstract:  This paper contemplates the brutality of digestion in one of the most graphic films of contemporary Hollywood horror and exploitation cinema. It explores the ways in which the construction of an expanded alimentary canal also provides an expanded field for modes of violence and violation in the film’s narrative, arguing that the spatial and temporal requirements of digestion can become a field for cruelty and excess that even the film itself cannot formally digest, but that reflects on questions of visual style, palatability, and cruelty in novel ways.

Respondent: Meghan Sutherland, Visual Studies and Cinema Studies, Toronto

This event is free and open to the public.  For further information, please contact Kim Yates at (416) 946-0313.

Download flyer A [pdf]

Download flyer B [pdf]

About JHI | Contact JHI | UofT | Follow us on Twitter twitter icon

Copyright © 2011-2014 University of Toronto. Jackman Humanities Institute. All Rights Reserved.
Tel: (416) 978-7415 Fax: (416) 946-7434, 170 St. George Street, Tenth Floor, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5R 2M8