2016 Early Audiovisual Theory Conference

“A hundred years of Film theory. Mu?nsterberg and beyond: Concepts, Applications, Perspectives”

29 June 2016 – 2 July 2016

Leipzig, Germany

Deadline: 15 November 2015

When AREA: Consultants, Critics and the Audiovisual Industry

the scholar Hugo Münsterberg was hired to investigate audience responses to the new medium of film, he was well paid and delivered a series of articles that were published in the trade press, gaining much attention. His work for Hollywood certainly pleased industry executives who wanted their medium to gain intellectual recognition. Producers sought middle-class respectability for a new ‘art form’. Yet Münsterberg’s work also provided an expertise that simply was not available within the film business. This arrangement was not to be uncommon in the history of film, radio, television and online media. From the early days of film to interactive network media, consultants – including experts in public relations – played an important role in legitimising content, often giving it a compliant ‘seal of approval’. While the industry provided much scope for original research, consultancy also sparked accusations of academics being for hire and thereby compromising their integrity in pursuit financial incentives. Journalism played – and continues to play – an important part in the promotion of audio-visual media. Leading critics, in fact, could literally influence the success of a production by what they wrote before the film was released.

Presentations may feature analyses of individual academics or critics, working for the film business, investigate the role of consultants, and take as closer look at the way journalists or critics influenced production from the early preproduction stages to the distribution, promotion and reception.

Please submit your 200-word proposal by 15 November 2015


Or send it via email to the address below.

Area Chairs:    Rüdiger Steinmetz, Tobias Hochscherf
Institute for Communications and Media Studies
University of Leipzig
Ritterstr. 26
04109 Leipzig

Panel proposals for up to three presenters are also welcome. Please note, however, that each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal.

This area, comprising multiple panels, is a part of the 2016 conference on early audiovisual theory held at the University of Leipzig, Germany, and sponsored by the International Association for Media and History. Taking the publication of Hugo Münsterberg’s seminal study The Photoplay (1916) as a point of departure, the international conference will look at film and television theory. A century after the publication of Münsterberg’s book, the conference seeks to look at audiovisual media from a broad variety of perspectives and disciplines. One of the keynote speakers will be Ian Jarvie.

The conference will host a ceremony to celebrate Münsterberg’s achievements, who began his career as a professor at the University of Leipzig before going to Harvard. For updates and other information about the upcoming meeting, see the conference website:

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