Héritages et Constructions dans le Texte et l'Image


Les spécificités du kitsch dans le cinéma anglophone

Call for papers:
“The specificities of kitsch in the cinema of English-speaking countries”  

(Dir) Nicole Cloarec & Isabelle Le Corff
Revue LISA/LISA e-journal (

Kitsch has often been used negatively by the elite to signify any type of bad taste, any style of low-brow, crowd-pleasing art exploiting stock emotions and popular icons, yet it has also been perceived as an inevitable aspect of cultural democracy. The concept may just as well refer to corny outmoded or retro aesthetics as to their humorous recycling and ironic subversion, overlapping with notions of camp and postmodernism. The idea of kitsch is not clearer in terms of political ideologies. The Austrian writer Hermann Broch considered kitsch as the expression of fascism while for the Check writer Milan Kundera, kitsch is synonymous with the cultural veneer of communist dictatorships.
While the notion has long been used in theorizing upon art in general, it has so far been much neglected in film studies. This is all the more surprising since the definition of kitsch as a form of mass culture devised to have popular appeal is one that is well suited to cinema itself. Indeed, kitsch crystallizes the ambivalent status of cinema as mass media and art, relying heavily on conventions yet recycling and subverting them, sneered at for offering instantaneous emotional gratification yet equally frowned upon for conveying ideological subtexts.
In this issue of Revue LISA/LISA e-journal (http://lisa.revues.org/) contributors are invited to explore and study the specificity of kitsch in the cinema of English-speaking countries:
- What are the expressions of kitsch in films from the Anglo-Saxon cultural area?
- Is there a specificity related to the Anglo-Saxon eccentricity compared to other parts of the world? Are there differences within this cultural area?
- What are the criteria used to define kitsch in these cultures?
- For what purposes do specific film genres / filmmakers refer to kitsch?
- How can the notion of kitsch reveal underlying aesthetic conventions, social prejudice or political ideologies in films?
- What are the strategies used to recycle and subvert it?
Confronting films, filmographies and/or TV series, we will explore their impurity and artificiality and dwell upon the aesthetic judgments that make them or aspects of them qualify as kitsch.

Abstracts (between 250 and 500 words) as well as a short biographical notice should be addressed to Nicole Cloarec ( nicole.cloarec@univ-rennes1.fr) and Isabelle Le Corff (isabelle.le-corff@univ-brest.fr) by June 1, 2015. Completed papers will be due November 1, 2015.

Selected References

  • Arrault Valérie, L’Empire du kitsch, Klincksieck, Paris, 2010.
  • Danto, Arthur, The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art, New York, Columbia University Press, 1986.
  • Genin, Christophe, Kitsch dans l’âme, Paris. Vrin, 2010.
  • Kulka, Tomas, Kitsch and Art, The Pennsylvania State University, 2002.
  • Mathijs Ernest, Sexton Jamie, Cult Cinema, Blackwell Publishing, 2011.
  • Moles, Abraham, Psychologie du Kitsch : l’art du bonheur. Ed Denoël-Gonthier, 1977.
  • Sontag, Susan, « Note on “Camp” », in S. Sontag, Against interpretation: and other essays, New York, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1964.