Playback: Genealogies of Interactivity

October 9-11, 2019, Concordia University

Use, re-use, engagement, creation, distraction, immersion, seduction, play, critique—media and culture consist of practices that shape experience, meaning, and communities. The basic dynamism of media present and past, though, is not always accommodated in our critical, theoretical, and scholarly approaches. We need critical explorations that recognize and assess media and their full cultural complexities in history and across contexts. This includes examinations of both minor and major media forms and formats, and their specific iterations and uses as content, event, institution and apparatus.

This symposium brings scholars from Concordia University together with students and faculty from the Institute for Theatre, Film, and Media Studies at Goethe University (Frankfurt, Germany) to explore the complexities of our media and cultural histories.

Symposium Hosts:

Communication Studies, Faculty of Arts and ScienceFilm Studies, Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Faculty of Fine Arts

In association with the Media History Research Centre, Concordia University and Graduiertenkolleg “Configurations of Film,” Goethe University

For more information on the symposium, presenters, and schedule, please visit our event page at:

A Distinction that Refuses to Collapse: Assessing the Videogame-Cinema Relationship | Bob Rehak

The historical relationship between film and videogames is both overdiscussed and underanalyzed; structured from the start by assumptions about the two mediums’ simultaneous affinity and alterity–what they share and what sets them apart–the narrative of their coevolution over the last forty years seems caught up in conceptual paradoxes whose unresolvability traps the conversation in a kind of eternal present tense in which successful fusion is always right around the corner. Taking a cue from special effects studies (which similarly diagnose an imminent yet ever-deferred arrival of “perfect” graphical simulation), I seek to move past conceptual roadblocks about the videogame-cinema relationship by cataloging and debunking their most common tropes. In so doing, the talk highlights certain problems of “doing” media history in an era of massively promoted technological sublimity and triumphalist capitalism: market-friendly and audience-flattering mythologies symptomatically expressed in the language of transmedia worlds and brands.

Bob Rehak earned his B.A. in English from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti (1992), his M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2000), and his Ph.D. in Communication and Culture from Indiana University at Bloomington (2006). His scholarship has appeared in Cinema JournalFilm Criticism, the Journal of Fandom StudiesScience Fiction Film and Television, and Information, Communication and Society, as well as in the edited collections The Video Game Theory ReaderVideogame/Player/TextThe Cybercultures ReaderSpreadable Media, and the Screen Decades and Behind the Silver Screen series.

His monograph More Than Meets the Eye: Special Effects and the Fantastic Transmedia Franchise was published by New York University Press in 2018, and he is currently writing VideoGames Go to the Movies for Routledge. He is co-editor, with Dan North and Michael S. Duffy, of the anthology Special Effects: New Histories/Theories/Contexts (BFI/Palgrave, 2015)

Thursday January 24 | 5 – 7 PM
Milieux Institute EV 11.705
Concordia University
1515 St. Catherine St. W

Archival Reconstructions: On Looking Disobediently in the Colonial Archive | Gabrielle Moser

Archival Reconstructions: On Looking Disobediently in the Colonial Archive | Gabrielle Moser

“In Projecting Citizenship, Gabrielle Moser gives a comprehensive account of an unusual project produced by the British government’s Colonial Office Visual Instruction Committee at the beginning of the twentieth century—a series of landern slide lectures that combined geography education and photography to teach schoolchildren around the world what it meant to look and to feel like an imperial citizen.

Through detailed archival research and close readings, Moser elucidates the impact of this vast collection of photographs documenting the land and peoples of the British Empire, circulated between 1902 and 1945 in classrooms from Canada to Hong Kong, from the West Indies to Australia. Moser argues that these photographs played a central role in the invention and representation of imperial citizenship. She shows how citizenship became a photographable and teachable subject by tracing the intended readings of the images that the committee hoped to impart to viewers and analyzing how spectators may have used their encounters with these photographs for protest and resistance. Moser shows how the Visual Instruction Committee pictured citizenship within an everyday context and decenters the preoccupation with trauma, violence, atrocity, and conflict that characterizes much of the theoretical literature on visual citizenship and demonstrates that the relationship between photography and citizenship emerged not in the dismantling of modern colonialism but in its consolidation.

Interweaving political and economic history, history of pedagogy, and theories of citizenship with a consideration of the aesthetic and affective dimensions of viewing the lectures, Projecting Citizenship offers important insights into the social inequalities and visual language of colonial rule.”

This talk will feature respondents Dr. Alice Ming Wai Jim (Concordia University Research Chair in Ethnocultural Art Histories) and Dr. Megha Sharma Sehdev (Postdoctoral Researcher, McGill Dept. of Anthropology).

Gabrielle Moser is a writer, educator and independent curator. She is the author of Projecting Citizenship: Photography and Belonging in the British Empire (Penn State UP, 2019) and her writing appears in venues including Artforum, Canadian Art, Journal of Visual Culture, Photography & Culture, and Prefix Photo. Moser has held fellowships at the Paul Mellon Centre for the Study of British Art, the Ryerson Image Centre, the University of British Columbia and was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Brown University in 2017. She holds a PhD from the art history and visual culture program at York University in Toronto, Canada and is an Assistant Professor in art history at OCAD University.

Tuesday March 19 | 5 – 7 PM
Milieux Institute EV 11.705
Concordia University
1515 St. Catherine St. W