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Kathleen McHugh Lecture

“Seeking a Film for the End of the World: Sci-Fi, Depression, and Apocalypse”

Friday, February 8, 2013, 1:00pm

IU Cinema

McHughSponsored by the Departments of Communication and Culture, Gender Studies, and English

Friday, February 8, 2013
1:00-2:00 p.m.
Place: At the IU Cinema (on 7th Street across from the Herman B. Well Library parking lot)

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 saw numerous indie and art films released that depicted the imminent or actual end of the world; many of these films employed their sci-fi end time narratives to explore psychic malaise and depression. These films include Mike Cahill’s Another Earth, Abel Ferrara’s 4:44: Last Day on Earth, Miranda July’s The Future, Jeff Nichols’s Take Shelter, Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. On the heels of bank foreclosures, recession, and market bailout, these films imagined their dystopic futures in relation to topics and scale eccentric to sci-fi—the domestic, the mundane, and the everyday, their meaning and relevance both hyperbolized and thrown into question by the framework of end time. I will use this cluster of films to explore several research questions: what do sci-fi motifs of end time provide contemporary indie/art narratives about depression and how does depression, articulated in some instances as psychological, social, and economic, extend the reach of sci-fi films? In so doing, I will consider how several of these depressive sci-fi films engage questions about mobility, aspiration, security, and care in this historical moment.

Kathleen McHugh, UCLA Professor of English and Cinema and Media Studies, has authored Jane Campion and American Domesticity: From How-To Manual to Hollywood Melodrama (1999), co-edited South Korean Golden Age Melodrama and a special issue of SIGNS on Film Feminisms. She has published articles on experimental autobiography, domesticity, transnational media feminisms and global melodrama in Camera Obscura, Cultural Studies, Jump Cut, Screen, South Atlantic Quarterly, and Velvet Light Trap. She is currently working on contemporary narratives of the end of the world. From 2005-2012, she served as Director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women.