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Bergman World: Global Perspectives on the Iconic Swedish Filmmaker’s Work

Deadline: 30 August 2019

We are seeking scholarly essays from around the world that represent and reflect on the genuinely international response to Ingmar Bergman’s cinema over seven decades. Until now, the very substantial amount of academic work devoted to the director in English or via translation has offered perspectives from Scandinavia, North America, Britain, and to some degree France. Yet since the 1950s Bergman has elicited substantial critical and scholarly interest, passionate viewership, and influence on filmmakers in the wider world, to a much more extensive degree than most – or perhaps even all – other European ‘art cinema’ figures. Such longstanding interest belies oft-heard clichés and critiques of Bergman’s films insisting they are of interest only to privileged Western audiences. It is our intention to shine a light on the genuine, remarkably global nature of these films’ reception.

Despite its usual positioning as quintessential ‘art cinema’, Bergman’s work finds broad diffusion in media markets worldwide. As a result, and via endless references, parodies, and cited influence, the films and their maker have attained an iconic role within popular culture. Along with our seeking to move beyond historically dominant northern-hemisphere Anglophone culture contexts, we encourage contributions reflecting Bergman’s dual role as a demanding European art cinema modernist and (as one of a small handful of filmmakers to grace the cover of Time magazine, the only one from a non-English-language context) virtual “household name” within popular culture across large parts of the world. 

            Our project takes some initial, “touchstone” inspiration from the fact that gay, leftist African-American novelist James Baldwin wrote of being profoundly moved by Bergman’s cinema, identifying resonance between what many assume to be irreconcilably different cultural contexts. In the present day, it has become apparent to us through both social media activity and more scholarly and cinephile online forums that critics and film lovers from Africa, India, Asia, Latin America, and beyond have had a longstanding fascination with Bergman’s films. Yet the old canard insisting they are of limited interest outside a presumptively white, upper-middle class West-European and North American audience remains. We are seeking to collate a series of original essays proving something quite different and closer to the truth: that Bergman’s film work has been, and continues to be, truly international in impact, generating profound meanings across cultures, nationalities, social classes, belief traditions, and political ideologies.

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We are asking for essays of between 4,000 and 7,000 words, written in or translated into English while emanating from diverse cultural origins and perspectives, approaching Bergman’s work with a view to its historical and ongoing global significance. We encourage the analysis and situating of the films via a range of methodologies and theoretical work spanning recent humanities disciplines and traditions (including, but not limited to, cultural studies, post-colonial studies, historiographic approaches, reception studies, and of course film studies), with a particular eye – as appropriate for this project – to scholarship devoted to the notion of “world cinema”. Spanning close analyses of particular films and large-scale studies of this cinema’s global or extremely localized reception, possible topics may include – but are not limited to – the following.

  • Historical accounts of noteworthy critical and/or audience reception of Bergman’s films in a particular country or region.
  • Close analysis of one or more films with a view to making cross-cultural connections.
  • Positioning Bergman’s work in relation to recent scholarship around the notion of “world cinema”.
  • Approaching Bergman’s films in light of debates around cinematic modernism’s international dimension and/or recent scholarly accounts of global art cinema.
  • Bergman’s hitherto unaddressed influence on dramatic and visual artists, including but not limited to film directors, from non-Western contexts.
  • Theoretical or historical accounts of global Bergman fan cultures.

Submissions Instruction

Abstracts of 100-200 words are due June 20.

Full submissions should be made online at the Popular Communication website (https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hppc20/current), where instructions for authors are also located. The deadline for submission of completed essays of between 4,000 and 7,000 words in length is August 15, 2019 for an anticipated 2020 publication.


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Editorial information

Any questions should be directed to the special journal issue guest editors.


Patrick Burkart and Christian Christensen, co-Editors-in-Chief

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