Posted on Monday 15th July 2013
Kate Ince, 'Roland Barthes, filmology and the history of audiovisual media study in France' at the Film-Philosophy conference 'Beyond Film' in Amsterdam 10-12 July.
Her paper entitled 'Roland Barthes, filmology and the history of audiovisual media study in France' dealt with the history of film-philosophy rather than a film-philosophical one per se, a history it will contribute to by appraising the role of Roland Barthes in the Filmology movement founded by Gilbert Cohen-Séat after the Second World War in Paris.
The formation of the Association pour la recherché filmologique in 1947 was directly followed by the establishment of its journal, the Revue internationale de filmologie, for which numerous important film critics and theorists of the mid twentieth century wrote – Siegfried Kracauer, Henri Wallon, Edgar Morin, among others. Roland Barthes’ contribution to the RiF, two articles entitled ‘The Problem of Signification in the Cinema’ and ‘Traumatic Unities in the Cinema: principles for research’, came late in its life as a French publication, in 1960. (The Institut de filmologie was dissolved in the early 1960s as the new Centre d'études de communication de masse (CECMAS) and its review Communications were founded, and as the RiF transferred publication to Milan, adopted - for the duration of 1962 - the second, inside-cover title of IKON then became simply IKON). Barthes had written hardly anything on film up to this point apart from a few reviews of individual films, and these two articles, published about eighteen and fifteen months respectively before ‘The Photographic Message’ appeared in the first issue of Communications, offer many insights into how the application of semiological methods and theories to film had already been adumbrated by publications in the RiF and would develop throughout the 1960s. In addition to appraising their significance, this paper will attempt to trace Barthes’ role in the study and teaching of audiovisual media taking place in France in 1960-61.