Neither Dog nor Master: Stray Thoughts for Cinema Studies
w/ James Leo Cahill (University of Toronto)
//Nov. 8th, 2022
//1250 Guy, FB 630.15
This talk draws upon recent global films about street dogs—Taskafa: Stories of the Street (Zimmerman, Turkey, 2013), Twelve Nights (Reye, Taiwan, 2014), Los Reyes (Perut and Osnovikoff, Chile, 2018), Pariah Dog (Alke, US/India, 2019), Stray (Elizabeth Lo, USA/Turkey, 2020)—to pose questions concerning some of the basic tenets of film theory and history through an attention to the material practices of filming stray animals. Through a set of “stray thoughts” that interrogates the relationship between subject, object, and image, individual and collective as organized through the tradition of anarchist thought encompassed by the slogan “neither god nor master”—revised for this work as neither dog nor master—this talk examines a diverse set of film techniques for engaging with questions of fidelity, capture, mobility, scale, subjectivity, and collaboration. What analytic purchases become available for film and media scholars through these cinematic “investigations of a dog,” which is to say, films that are both about and in some concrete ways like a dog? In addition to presenting part of this work in progress, I'll use the talk to draw out an allegory of cinema studies, or how I go about generating ideas, doing research, and writing.
James Leo Cahill is Director of the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto and Associate Professor of Cinema and French. He is author of Zoological Surrealism: The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé (Minnesota, 2019), co-editor with Luca Caminati of Cinema of Exploration: Essays in an Adventurous Film Practice (AFI/Routledge, 2021), and General Editor of Discourse. He is presently working on a SSHRC-funded project on the cinema and literature of exploration from France from Le Petit Prince to La Planète des singes (1943-1963) and a short book titled Neither Dog nor Master: An Essay in Stray Thinking.