2020 Cinema Studies Graduate Student Union's Conference: Friendship

When and Where

Friday, January 31, 2020 2:00 pm to Saturday, February 01, 2020 6:00 pm
Deluxe Screening Room, Room 222
2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Salomé Skvirksy (University of Chicago)


“Is it the one who loves who is the friend of the one who is loved, whether [they’re] loved in return or whether [they’re] actually hated? Or is it the one who is loved who is the friend of the one who loves? Alternatively, in such a case is neither the friend of either, unless both of them love each other?”

-Socrates in Plato’s Lysis, 143


“We have in fact caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But as you see it’s a beautiful day, the beaches are open, and the people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means friendship.”

-The Mayor from Jaws (1975, Spielberg)

Friendship takes many forms. It manifests in, but is not reducible to: camaraderie, solidarity, allyship, accompliceship, companionship. Friendship can be formed in the midst of struggle, or it can run counter to political commitments. CSI’s annual graduate conference for 2020, held on January 31st and February 1st, takes up the theme of friendship in all its myriad configurations, from the conceptually abstract notion of affinity, to the quantifiable datafication of social media “friends.” There are as many theories of friendship as there are theorists. Kant delineated between perfect friendship, moral friendship, and friendship based on feeling. Schopenhauer argued for friendship as an admixture of selfishness and compassion. Samuel Delany recommended the promulgation of interclass contact, exemplified in the porno theaters of Times Square, while Alenka Zupančič criticized the “false friendship” of philosophical attempts to divorce sexuality from psychoanalytic insights.

Meanwhile, in the movies, friendship has been returned to again and again, irresolvable and ever-present. Given the long history of sexual regulation in the cinema along lines of gender, race, “decency,” and the mutual-imbrication of all three, friendship has often been read in cinema as occluding sexuality; friendship imposed on narratives by the needs of propriety. Yet what happens when we focus on friendship on its own terms? What do we gain and what do we lose in contending with a more robust notion of friendship? Is not the recent ubiquitous (and at times insincere) call to interdisciplinarity a broadening of the horizons of just what intellectual friendship (and, by extension, intellectual community) could look like?

Plato’s Lysis concludes with the words, “…we were not as yet able to find out precisely what a friend is.” We take this as both signal and opportunity, description and provocation.

  Friday, January 31
2:10 - 2:20 pm

Welcoming Remarks, Message from the Graduate Journal

2:20 - 3:50 pm

Moderator: Émilie (Jacob) von Garan

Jared Aronoff (University of British Columbia): “The Social Pleasure of Bad Cinema”

Yung-Lin Wang (University of Toronto): “Translated and Fictional Friendship: The Complex of Creativity”

Kate Russell (University of Toronto): “A Cavalcade of Perversions: The Dreamlanders’ Community of Filth from Exhibition to Archive”

4:10 - 6:00 pm

Keynote: “The Process Genre, Labor, Comradeship”
Dr. Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky (University of Chicago)
Media Commons Theatre (Robarts Library)
  Saturday, February 1
9:00 - 10:30 am

Technology & the Inhuman
Moderator: Ganga Rudraiah

Félix Veilleux (University of Toronto): “A technological friendship, or Tati’s dogs”

Hong Liu (University of Toronto): On Affinity, Morality, and Trolls: Radical Eco-terrorism and the Limit of Interspecies Empathy in Border (2018)”

Alan McTavish (Simon Fraser University): “Who are the ‘Bad Guys’? -- Depictions of Friendship in American Factory

10:45 - 12:15 pm

Moderator: Julian Chamoun

Chris Luciantonio (York University): “The Clothes Make the Friend: Japan’s Fashion Subcultures and Companionship in Nakashima Tetsuya’s Kamikaze Girls

Erin Nunoda (University of Toronto) and Emily Barton (York University): “‘Meaning is not in things, but between them’: Queer Friendship and Velvet Goldmine

Erin Mick (University of Toronto): “‘The same as being born, only backwards’: Befriending Death from Casper to The Haunting of Hill House

12:15 - 1:15 pm Lunch Break
1:30 - 2:30 pm Publishing Workshop for Graduate Students with Dr. Salomé A. Skvirsky (moderated by Dr. James Leo Cahill).
No registration required.
2:45 - 4:15 pm

Feminist Narratives Reconsidered
Moderator: Laura MacFadden

Prisca Lam (University of Toronto): “‘We are the weirdos, mister’: Witchcraft, Rebellion and Friendship in The Craft

Juan Velásquez-Buriticá (McGill University): “Futile Friendships: Unproductivity in Dancer in the Dark, La Cienaga, and Queen of Earth”

Celine Bell (University of Toronto): “‘Some of my best friends are women’: Female Friendship and The Women

4:30 - 6:00 pm

Measure, Music, Memory
Moderator: Joshua Harold Wiebe

Xindi Li (University of California: Santa Cruz) and Devin Wangert (Harvard University): “You Incomplete Me”

Justin Morris (University of Toronto): “Anne Murray’s MOR Feminism”

8:00 pm Closing Reception at Bedford Academy (36 Prince Arthur Ave)


Contact Information


Cinema Studies Institute, Graduate Students' Union, Centre for the Study of the United States, Centre for Comparative Literature, McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, Centre for Drama Theatre & Performance Studies, Women & Gender Studies Institute


2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5