Sense and Sensation in a Cultural Milieu of Noir Images Explored in New Conference at Trent University


Academics from around the world to explore noir beyond film at the Noir Sensorium Symposium with screenings, talks and receptions Oct 7-9

Monday, October 4, 2010, Peterborough

The first-ever international conference of its kind, “Noir Sensorium”, a multi-disciplinary symposium will address the emergence, circulation and effects of Noir themes; to be held at Catharine Parr Traill College, Trent University, 310 London Street, Peterborough, October 7 – 9, 2010.

Originally coined as a cinematic term by French film critics to describe the dark, black and white films coming out of Hollywood in the 40s and 50s, the term ‘noir’ refers to a stylistic approach or attitude relating to themes of crime, cynicism, sexual motivations, the doomed hero, universal corruption and moral breakdown.  The question of whether noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.

“The idea is to explore the sensorial dimensions of noir,” explains Dr. Davide Panagia, the Canada research chair in cultural studies at Trent, one of the conference organizers. Professor Panagia is interested in the role of the senses as opposed to cognition in one’s judgements about political life. “This conference is an opportunity to examine the ways in which ethical attitudes are developed when engaged with noir images and culture,” adds Prof. Panagia.

The manifestation of noir images has been a notable feature of modern and postmodern culture since the first half of the twentieth century. This symposium addresses the emergence and circulation of noir images by focusing not on their origin and essence, but on the way they develop, fragment, and proliferate in diverse cultural sites such as film noir, crime fiction, television, comics, graphic novels, and the Internet – together with other genres, such as science fiction and experimental fiction. The symposium poses the further question of how a cultural milieu of noir images combines with sense and sensation in what might be called a ‘noir sensorium’.

Dr. Vivian Sochack, author of The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience and visiting professor from the University of California in Los Angeles, will deliver her keynote address, “Driving in a Back Projection, or Forestalled by Film Noir”, on Thursday evening at Splice, downtown Peterborough.

Symposium Highlights:
Thursday, 7 October 2010 at Splice, 379 George St. N Peterborough

4:30 p.m. - Welcome Address
Dr. Gary Boire, Trent University Provost and Vice President Academic

6 p.m. - Film Screening: Detour (1945)

8 p.m. - Keynote Address
“Driving in a Back Projection, or Forestalled by Film Noir”
Dr. Vivian Sobchack, School of Theatre, Film and Television, UCLA

Friday, 8 October 2010 at Traill College, 310 London Street, Peterborough

10 a.m. – Panel One
“Alcoholics and Apes, Duplicates and Dreams: Enrolling Film Noir” by Dr.
Mark Bould, Film and Literature, University of the West of England

“Parallax Gaps and Black Holes: The Contemporary Graphic Noir of Charles Burns’s Black Hole” by Dr. Neil Finlayson and Dr. Nemanja Protic, Department of English, York University

Saturday, 9 October 2010 at Traill College, 310 London Street Peterborough

9:30a.m. – Panel Three
 “Greene and Noir” by Dr. Ian McLachlan, Cultural Studies Department, Trent University

“Speculative Noir: ‘Things are Things’” by Dr. Veronica Hollinger, Cultural Studies Department, Trent University

3 p.m. – Roundtable Discussion: “Bodies in the Dark” with Dr. Mark Bould, Dr. Thomas Dumm, Dr. Vivian Sobchack and Dr. Sherryl Vint, moderated by Dr. Davide Panagia

For a full schedule of events please visit the website:

The Noir Sensorium is sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies, the Centre for the Study of Theory, Culture and Politics, and the Cultural Images Project with support from the Departments of Cultural Studies, English Literature, Politics, the Cultural Studies Ph.D. Program, the Office of Research, the Office of Graduate Studies, the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies and Traill College.


For more information, please contact: Adrienne Richard, Conference Coordinator,