Breaking the Rules

Breaking the Rules: Gender, Power, and Politics in the Films of Lars Von Trier

A Brown University Conference

November 7&8, 2014
Friday, November 7, 2014—10am-6:30pm
Saturday, November 8, 2014—9:15am-1pm

Pembroke Hall 305
172 Meeting Street 

Lars von Trier’s films – including Melancholia (2011) and Nymphomaniac (2014) – are unsettling, urgent, and often controversial. His films raise questions about gender and violence, the politics of the foreigner, the disabled and the immigrant, conditions of work in neoliberal economies, marriage, morality, and more. This conference aims not only to generate political commentary on von Trier’s films, but also to use his films as an occasion to develop new work in political, literary, film, feminist, or critical theory. Towards this end, "Breaking the Rules" brings together scholars from all over the world with scholars at Brown who work at the intersections of classics, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, racial politics, religious studies, political science, philosophy, humanities and communications arts, and film and media studies. We invite you to join us in thinking about film as a political and aesthetic technology. This conference will feature scholars who have been invited to submit papers for a special issue of Theory & Event, an interdisciplinary journal with a reputation for cutting edge theoretical and political inquiry. 

Panelists include:   Stephen Bush, Tony Cokes, Thomas Elsaesser, Rosalind Galt, Bonnie Honig, Lynne Huffer, Miriam Leonard, Lori Marso, James Martel, Chris Peterson, Lars Toender, Victoria Wohl 

Sponsored by Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, Department of Modern Culture and Media, Creative Arts Council, Pembroke Center Faculty Seed Grant Program, The C.V. Starr Lectureship, Dean of the Faculty

(printable schedule)

Friday 7 November—10:00 am - 6:30pm
9:30 Breakfast
10 am:  Welcome: Kevin McLaughlin, Dean of Faculty, Brown University

10:15-12:45: Witches, Nymphs, and Mothers
Chair: Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg, Brown University

“Must We Burn Lars von Trier?”
Lori Marso, Union College

"Trolling Politics: Perverse Complicities from Antichristto Nymphomaniac” 
Rosalind Galt, King’s College London 

“The Feel of the Agon: Lars von Trier’s Nymph()maniac”
Lynne Huffer, Emory University

 12:45-2:00 Lunch Break

2-3:40:  Young Americans
Chair: Lynne Joyrich, Brown University

“LvT 7: Golden Years 3”
Tony Cokes, Brown University

“National Fantasy and Individual Vision in
 Dancer in the Dark”
 Victoria Wohl, University of Toronto

 3:40- 4:00 afternoon break

4-6:30: Melancholics, Things and Idiots
Chair: Richard Rambuss, Brown University

“Comic Rules: Lars von Trier’s The Idiots and the Politics of Dogma 95”
Lars Tønder, University of Melbourne, Australia

“The Gravity of Melancholia: von Trier, Cuaron, and the Object Oriented Revolution” 
Christopher Peterson, University of Western Sydney, Australia

“Black Suns and a Bright Planet: Lars von Trier’s Melancholia”
Thomas Elsaesser, University of Amsterdam (Emeritus) and Columbia University (visiting)

Saturday 8 November—9:15am - 1pm
9:00 Breakfast

9 :15 -11:00  Adolescents and Children
Chair: Amanda Anderson, Brown University

“Out Like a Lion: Reading Melancholia with Euripides and Winnicott"
Bonnie Honig, Brown University

“I Know What Has to Happen”: Lars von Trier’s Tragic Politics 
 Miriam Leonard, University College, London

11:15 -1:00: Saints, Mystics, Martyrs
Chair: Susan Bernstein, Brown University

“Sharing in What Death Reveals: Breaking the Waves with Bataille and von Trier”
Stephen Bush, Brown University

Broken by God: Fate and Divine Interference in Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves
James Martel, San Francisco State University