Camera-Stylo: Intersections in Literature and Cinema 2017 Conference

Conference has begun!

10 – 12 July 2017, Sydney
Hosted by the School of Literature, Art and Media University of Sydney

“After having been successively a fairground attraction, an amusement analogous to boulevard theatre, or a means of preserving the images of an era, [cinema] is gradually becoming a language. By language, I mean a form in which and by which an artist can express his thoughts, however abstract they may be, or translate his obsessions exactly as he does in the contemporary essay or novel. That is why I would like to call this new age of cinema the age of camera-stylo (camera-pen).”

In 1947, Alexandre Astruc used the metaphor of the camera-stylo, or the camera-pen, to expand conceptions of cinematic practice and film aesthetics. Building on the strengths of the first event, the 2017 Camera-Stylo conference will continue to explore conceptions of and intersections between the pen and the camera, word and image, the literary and the cinematic. We welcome contributions to the ongoing conversation on any and all ways in which literary and filmic imagining informs or plays out within media today, whether on the page (paper and digital) or the screen (large and small).

Topics may include but are not limited to:
– Screen/writing
– Screenplay as literary/cinematic text
– Poetics of screenwriting
– HBO and the television revolution
– Intersections of literary and cinematic modernism
– Documentary as literary and cinematic process
– Early cinema and writing
– Literary and film theory
– Genre in writing and cinema
– Literary/cinematic poetics
– Adaptation
– The essay film
– Biopic and life writing
– Authorship/auteurism
– The writer in film
– Film montage as writing


Rates for attendance at the Camera-Stylo Conference 2017:

Academic/waged = $300*
Post graduate/unwaged = $100*
Auditing = $0**
Opening keynote session and reception ONLY = $20

* Australian dollars
** Attendance at the conference is free for postgraduate students not presenting a paper, however, this does not include admittance to the opening keynote session and reception, and catered events.

Conference registration will open on May 30, 2017.

Register now

Keynote speakers

Kathryn Millard

Professor Kathryn Millard
Colourful Stories

From early cinema and beyond, Australian inventors sought to develop an indigenous colour system. Solarchrome, which found the most success, was best suited to short newsreels and documentaries. Following the Second World War, companies from the United States, Britain and Europe competed to make Australia’s first colour feature. How could their respective colour systems be successfully adapted to local filming conditions and Australia’s distinctive light? In the end, line honours went to Twentieth Century Fox and Technicolor for Kangaroo (1952). It was one of around 100 features shot or processed in Technicolour that year, as Hollywood studios sent production teams around the world in search of ‘exotic colour’. For Kangaroo, Fox settled on locations in the far north of South Australia with its vast expanses of red earth. This presentation, drawing on extensive archival research, examines the scripting of Kangaroo. A process in which materials recycled from Fox’s Story Department were remixed with the nonfiction writing of script advisor, Colin Simpson and generous splashes of local colour. An encounter between the Hollywood studio system and Australian travel literature in 1951.

A writer, award-winning filmmaker and cross-disciplinary scholar, Kathryn Millard is Professor of Screen and Creative Arts at Macquarie University. Her credits span feature films (documentaries and dramas) and hybrid works. Screen history, psychology, performance and the after-life of images are recurring themes in her body of work. Kathryn’s feature documentary Shock Room (2015), the major output of an ARC Discovery grant, was awarded ‘Best Documentary’ at the Antennae Documentary Festival. Her book Screenwriting in a Digital Era was re-issued this year.

Julien Murphet

Professor Julian Murphet
‘How Writing Is Written’, The Movie

How did the filmic representation, not only of writers, but of the means of literary production and of literary products themselves, help to shape a rebarbative cinematic idea of literariness? Over 100 years of figuring writers as sociopaths and deviants, books as dangerous and secretive, libraries as haunted and combustible, and presses as sites of industrial unscrupulousness and exploitation, has left the film archive scarred by its proximity to literary labour. Taking a selective course through that archive, this exploratory lecture makes a case for media competition as the basis of much of the animosity, but also locates rare havens ond veneration outside the commercial national film industries, where the lion of cinema and the lamb of literature occasionally lie down together.

Julian Murphet is Scientia Professor in English and Film Studies at UNSW Sydney. He is the author of Literature and Race in Los Angeles (2001), Multimedia Modernism (2009) and the forthcoming Faulkner’s Media Romance (2017), and has co-edited 9 collections of essays.

Angela Ndalianis

Professor Angela Ndalianis
Hannibal and Hannibal’s Baroque Theatre

This paper explores both Hannibal the television show and Hannibal the character as expressions of a baroque theatricality that has much in common with the historical baroque’s fascination with the concept of ‘theatre of the world’ – a theatre intent on actively engaging the participant through multiple senses. Examining Hannibal’s deliberate references to the baroque wunderkammer, the Dutch still-life and vanitas painting tradition, and the concept of the baroque horror vacui this paper will outline how Hannibal stages his production. In his sensory theatre, Hannibal plays the role of performer, artist, and creator, and he sees the lives of individuals who occupy his world as unwary actors that he manipulates as a director would a play or a film. The series progressively undermines and questions all manifestations of what ‘reality’ might be by forcing the narrative world, characters, and the viewers to succumb to the seductive (and not always apparent) illusions and delusions conjured by Hannibal Lecter. Ultimately, however, the series – and its creator Bryan Fuller – unveils Hannibal as a Don Quixote figure who is trapped within the fictional world of his creation. 

Angela Ndalianis is Research Professor in Media and Screen Studies at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research focuses on entertainment media and the transhistorical and transcultural nature of the baroque. Her publications include Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment (2004), The Horror Sensorium: Media and The Senses (2012), Science Fiction Experiences (2009) and The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero (editor, 2008). She has also published numerous essays in journals and anthologies, and is currently working on two books: Batman: Myth and Superhero and Robots and Entertainment Culture.

Hilary Radner

Professor Hilary Radner
Adaptation and the Female Event Film: From The Bridges of Madison County (1995) to Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Mention the field of cinematic adaptation and immediately the listener, more often than not, recalls the many adaptations of great works that mark the history of cinema from its beginnings as the French “film d’art,” which posited the seventh art as an extension of serious literature and theater. Adaptation is, also, however, a lynchpin in the system devised by contemporary Conglomerate Hollywood to create what is called “pre-established awareness,” a key element in producing the big opening-weekend box-office critical to blockbuster success. The importance of a published book’s ability to produce pre-established awareness is particularly noticeable with regard to films directed at a female audience. Given the paucity of films made for this audience, and the relative lack of success that they achieve (they are rarely, even when qualified as event films, in the top ten box-office earners within a given year), the number that are based on successful books, usually novels, is notable.

Certainly, adaptation plays a role in bringing personal films to the screen, with such collaborations as that between independent director Kelly Reichardt and author Jon Raymond resulting in the remarkable Wendy and Lucy (2008). Adaptations may also serve to highlight social problems as in Still Alice (Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland), based on a novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova about early onset Alzehimer’s disease. Both these examples might be considered the contemporary offspring of the woman’s film of Classical Hollywood. Notwithstanding, the string of books from Sex and the City (Candace Bushnell, 1997) to Fifty Shades of Grey (E.L. James, 2011) associated with female event films, including teen series from Twilight to the Hunger Games, also demands commentary, given that these successes seem to go against the grain of theories that see cinema as a form of “writing” produced by an “auteur.”

The event film, I argue, is the product of a socially and economically elaborated machine designed to produce emotions that discourage the viewer from reflecting upon the meaning of what she watches. Even when, as in the case of the Hunger Games franchise, the topic is “revolution,” the viewer is not encouraged to consider the stakes of her own experiences. Rather, she engages with what Andi Zeisler calls, in her recent book We Were Feminists Once (2016), “marketplace feminism.” In this intervention, then, I propose to consider the dynamics of adaptation and how it affects whether or not we as feminists can read these films as in some way serving the goals of feminism as it was once understood––whether, or not, “marketplace feminism” as expressed in the female event film is irretrievable.

Hilary Radner is Emeritus Professor of Film and Media Studies at University of Otago and author of three monographs: Shopping Around: Consumer Culture and the Pursuit of Pleasure (Routledge, 1995), Neo-Feminist Cinema: Girly Films, Chick Flicks and Consumer Culture (Routledge, 2011), and The New Woman’s Film: Femme-centric Movies for Smart Chicks (Routledge, 2017), as well as six co-edited volumes. Her current project is Raymond Bellour: Cinema and the Moving Image (under contract with Edinburgh UP).


The Camera-Style program has been finalised and can be downloaded from the link below. The program includes all abstracts and author biographies.

Download Program


The Camera-Style conference will be held in the New Law Building at Sydney University, Camperdown Campus. Please check the program for specific room details.

Sydney University Law Building

  • Law School Building (F10), Eastern Ave, Camperdown NSW 2006


For information about the conference, please contact the conference convenors:

Professor Peter Marks
Department of English, University of Sydney

Dr Bruce Isaacs
Department of Art History, University of Sydney

Dr David Kelly
Department of English, University of Sydney