Reproduction on Film conference, 23-25 September, University of Cambridge

Reproduction on Film conference
23-25 September 2015
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

Reproduction is one of the most persistently generative themes in the history of cinema. Storks, cabbage fairies, golems, homunculi, robots, parasitic aliens, and clones have fascinated film-makers and audiences for more than a century. Today we have grown accustomed not only to the once controversial portrayals of sperm, eggs, and embryos in science and medicine, but also to the artificial wombs, monstrous creations, and dystopian futures of science fiction and fantasy. Yet, while scholars have explored key films and genres, especially in response to the recent cycle of Hollywood 'mom coms', the analytic potential of reproduction on film remains largely untapped. This conference aims to explore reproduction as a theme to unite diverse strands of film history that are not usually considered in the same frame. Reproduction can link films across a wide range of periods, national cinemas, and genres as different as slapstick and horror, melodrama and social realism, sex education and experimental.
Moreover, biological reproduction is a potent metaphor for the mechanical reproduction of cinematography.

The conference will bring together scholars representing various disciplines and periods spanning the entire history of film. It will begin on Wednesday evening with a screening of short films; details to be confirmed. Talks on Thursday and Friday will summarize pre-circulated papers and be followed by discussion in 45-minute slots, in such a way as to promote critical engagement between fields and approaches. A preliminary programme can be found here:

The registration fee of £30 (£15 for students/unwaged) includes lunch and tea/coffee on both days. Registration opens soon.

Organisers: Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge), Caitjan Gainty (Department of History, King's College London) and Patrick Ellis (Department of Film and Media, University of California, Berkeley)

Supported by a Wellcome Trust strategic award in the history of medicine to the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, and by the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at King's College London.

For enquires, please email: