Jackman Humanities Institute Symposium: Strange Weather | Cinematic Climates

When and Where

Friday, February 14, 2020 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Room 100a
Jackman Humanities Institute
170 St. George St, Toronto, ON M5R 2M8


This symposium and screening event will bring together a core group of scholars and creators working at the cutting edge of film and media studies whose research asks how histories and theories of the aesthetics and materiality of moving-image media can contribute to pressing debates about today’s climate crisis.

Pushing beyond the basic (if nonetheless true) premise that cinema has the power to create environmental consciousness, whether through activist documentaries (An Inconvenient Truth [2006]) or fictional allegories (The Day After Tomorrow [2004]), symposium participants will seek more nuanced understandings of cinema’s power to make our world strange, or as Siegfried Kracauer put it, to “estrange” us from traditional ways of seeing and knowing. In the age of the so-called “Anthropocene,” in which (some) humans have come to dominate the very definition of our world and its history, cinema uniquely manages both to embody the anthropocentric ambitions of modernity while also holding the potential to decenter human vision. Whether anthropocentric or radically estranging, cinema and new media, as film and media scholars working on infrastructural and materialist histories have argued, is directly implicated in the warming of our world and its strained and estranged ecologies.

On February 13, Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal will present her film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018) at Innis Town Hall.

Symposium Schedule on February 14

10:00 Registration + Welcome


James Leo Cahill and Brian R. Jacobson


Anthropocene Cinema

Jennifer Fay (Vanderbilt) - Do We Know the Anthropocene When We See It?

Selmin Kara (OCAD) - Stranded States: Anthropocene Cinema from the Margins

12:00 Lunch

Cinematic Atmospheres

Yuriko Furuhata (McGill) - Manufacturing Perfect Weather: The Cold War Geopolitics of Climate Media

Katerina Korola (U. Chicago) - Objectivity in the Air; or, How to Photograph Industry circa 1930

Weihong Bao (U.C. Berkeley) - The Cloud of Doubts: Making Sense of the Sensible in Postwar Chinese Cinema


Manufactured Environments

Debashree Mukherjee (Columbia) - The Scene of Production: Topography as Protagonist, Environment as Actant

Jennifer Peterson (Woodbury) - Boil the Ocean, Break the Ice: Film History, Nature, and Endangerment

5:00 Conclusion + Reception



Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts, Cinema Studies Institute, Canadian Film Forum