The Department of English
in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences was the bona fide star of the 56th annual conference of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies
(SCMS), recently held in Montreal, Canada.
More than 15 people affiliated with the University, including seven Ph.D. students and eight alumni (i.e., two former undergraduates and six former graduate students), presented papers at the five-day conference, dedicated to the critical study of film, television, video, and new media. They were joined by more than 2,000 other registered attendees from over 40 countries.
The Syracuse delegation was led by Steven Cohan
, Dean’s Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and SCMS president elect, and Roger Hallas
, associate professor of English and director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies Program.
“Syracuse was all over the program,” says Cohan, a University faculty member since 1975. “For some of our presenters, the conference was old hat; for others, it was their first time. Regardless, everybody was well received. There was a buzz about the University.”
Hallas agrees, adding that the English department, despite its relatively small size, made itself known. “SCMS covers a lot of ground,” he says. “In addition to film, TV, and popular culture, the conference examines gaming, social media, and fan and audience studies. This is the kind of work for which Syracuse is known.”
The University’s success at SCMS was indicative of its upwardly mobile English department—specifically, its graduate curriculum in film and screen studies
and the Film and Screen Studies Track
for undergraduates. That the department offers specialized training in criticism, theory, research, and teaching presumably makes it a good fit for SCMS and vice versa—creating a kind of "pipeline of talent," as Hallas puts it.
Held at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in downtown Montreal, the SCMS conference featured more than 480 panels, workshops, and screenings. Topics ranged from the geopolitics of film circulation, to film criticism and scholarship, to the growing impact of LGBT film festivals.