Colloquium: John David Rhodes for Cinema Studies (FB 330, 12pm)

Join us for this talk by Italian film studies scholar John David Rhodes, from the University of Cambridge, as part of the colloquia series of the Cinema Studies Program at Penn (CIS co-sponsorship). The talk takes place in 330 Fisher-Bennett Hall.

The title is:

"The Prop and its Properties"


The prop names a category of ubiquity: props are everywhere in cinema. The term, short for property, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionaryas “any portable object (now usually other than an article of costume) used in a play, film, etc., as required by the action.” The straightforwardness of this definition, however, belies the strangeness of the prop. The prop begs questions of scale, ambience, contingency, commodification, objecthood, and narration. In the context of narrative cinema, props seem as necessary as actors, sets, and locations. Regarding cinema through the lens of the prop—which is the lens of property—helps us to see how an ontological instrumentality courses through the very nature of the cinematic medium. This talk, which will veer from theory to history to questions of close reading, emerges from my recent book on domestic architecture and cinema, The Spectacle of Property: The House in American Film (2017). In the talk I hope to show how foregrounding cinema’s prop-ness summons into view some of the medium’s most curious and most unsettling features.

John David Rhodes
30 January 2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
330 Fisher-Bennett Hall