CFP: Edited Volume: Critical Distance

Deadline: Dec 9, 2016


Critical Distance: New Explorations in Documentary Theory and Practice

Edited by:
Dr. Gerda Cammaer, Ryerson University
Dr. Blake Fitzpatrick, Ryerson University
Dr. Bruno Lessard, Ryerson University

We are soliciting chapter abstracts for an edited collection tentatively titled "Critical Distance: New Explorations in Documentary Theory and Practice."

The field of documentary studies has vastly expanded since the early 1990s when foundational publications established the critical paradigms towards which scholars would gravitate to shed light on nonfiction film. Over the past two decades, a number of dedicated journals, annual conferences, and book series have consolidated documentary studies under the leadership of an active community of scholars.

This volume will account for recent shifts in documentary practice and theory by examining new methodologies arising from an expansive repertoire of media practices, including (but not limited to) photography, film, video, sound, installation, and new media. These multiplatform and multidisciplinary forms of representation call for new analytical models and multifaceted approaches to documentary studies linking documentary media to an expanded field that includes media studies, cultural studies, digital media arts, game studies, geographic analysis, critical topography, and contemporary art, just to name a few.

Predicated upon the notion of "critical distance," the expression references the power of documentary images and sounds to do crucial work in responding critically to contemporary issues as discovered in the situated conditions of the world. As we intend to look to new sounds and images, the collection sets itself up at a distance from previous collections and trends in documentary studies, including the overrepresentation of documentary film and the overreliance on historical and phenomenological approaches.

This innovative collection of essays thus seeks to re-launch documentary studies in light of recent developments in critical theory, continental philosophy, pressing contemporary issues, and 21st-century documentary practices. It will argue that the present moment is one in which collapsing social structures and environmental challenges will be best addressed through new formulations of ideas and practices in documentary media. These considerations address space, time, theory, media, and dissemination as the cinema screen gives way to the gallery, mobile screens, and the Internet as sites for documentary images and sounds. New theorizations are needed to account for these political, social, and representational shifts in order to go beyond the still predominant paradigms in documentary studies, as well as traditional models for film and photographic distribution. In short, the volume will address counter-narratives to dominant documentary media forms, practices, formats, and theories.

We welcome a range of approaches to the theme of "critical distance" in documentary theory and practice. Possible topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:

- Actor-network theory and assemblage theory;
- Speculative realism and object-oriented ontology;
- Post-Lacanian approaches (S. Žižek, A. Johnston, J.-A. Miller, C. Malabou) to documentary media;
- Animal studies and documentary media;
- Ecomedia and documentary;
- "Critical realism" (Allan Sekula)
- Post-humanity;
- The Anthropocene and documentary productions;
- Neglected areas and traditions, especially Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and South-East Asia;
- Critical topography
- Social documentary photography;
- Documentary photography studies;
- Documentary games;
- Documentary and the north;
- Drone documentaries;
- Microdocumentaries / mobilementaries;
- Documentary sound, sound art, and podcasts;
- Locative, wearable, mobile media;
- 3D stereoscopic vision & IMAX;
- VR, augmented reality, and 360-camera technology;
- Data visualization;
- Documentary and the gallery / museum;
- Documentary installations;
- Research-creation scholarship and documentary making.

Submission requirements:
Please send a 500-word abstract (excluding bibliography) with a title, a 100-word bio, and a short CV and contact info (for each author/co-author) to both and by December 9th, 2016.

Submission of abstract: December 9th, 2016
Notification of decisions: by February 20th, 2017

Contact info:
Bruno Lessard, PhD
Associate Professor
School of Image Arts
Documentary Media Research Centre (
Ryerson University

Gerda Cammaer, PhD
Associate Professor
School of Image Arts
Documentary Media Research Centre (
Ryerson University

CFP: Edited Volume: Critical Distance. In:, Sep 14, 2016 (accessed Aug 8, 2020), <>.

Contributor: Bruno Lessard

Contribution published: Sep 14, 2016

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