From the early days of film studies, costumes have been analysed as an important element of the mise-en-scène and stardom, as they help shape identities and define subjectivities, crafting the stars. There is no question that costumes help create meaning, no less today than in the heyday of classical cinema. More recently, haute couture has entered film as a topic, just as fashion designers have become the subjects of biopics. In recent years, fashion films have become an interesting vehicle for large fashion brands that were able to attract prestigious auteurs (Roman Polanski, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Sofia Coppola, et al). Indeed, the whole ecosystem of fashion has been ruptured by the effects of digital distribution, blogs, and social media.
The special section of the Autumn 2017 issue of NECSUS is devoted to this key element in photographic practices and cinematic and audiovisual storytelling. #Dress investigates fashion and costume as theoretical and analytical concerns in media studies, and the analyses demonstrate how dress and costume contribute to the production of meaning. #Dress also presents the many echoes of Roland Barthes’ seminal publication The Fashion System (1967) and the ‘language’ of fashion magazines as an analytical tool to address theoretical questions of identity, politics, and cultural history. Contributors to this special section include Marie Lous Baronian, Giuliana Bruno, Isabelle Freda, Šárka Gmiterková & Miroslava Papežová, and Frances Joseph.
The Features section in this issue opens with a conversation with a pioneer of film phenomenology, Vivian Sobchack. The interview is conducted by film phenomenologist Julian Hanich, who explores her seminal work in the field of film phenomenology and the prominence of phenomenology in media studies at this point in time. Since the beginning of the 1990s, Sobchack was the main driving force behind the rediscovery of phenomenology as a productive methodology in film studies and she has promoted an existential-phenomenological approach to moving image media and drawn attention to the bodily and material foundations of film viewing ever since. The features section also presents the film philosopher Thomas Wartenberg, well-known for his work on Hannah Arendt and the powers of evil, this time applying his analytical tools to the controversial documentary The Act of Killing. Elena del Río contributes an essay on the film La Grande Bellezza and its concerns with transindividuality. Evangelia Kindinger investigates the work of Guillermo del Toro, particularly his film Crimson Peak and its mobilisaton of female gothic. Zhu Yeqi takes online communities in China as her concern and the creation of alternative public spaces.
The audiovisual essay section is guest edited by Volker Pantenburg, who explores the rich archaeology of the form. Contrary to received wisdom which sees the genealogy of the video essay solely in the avant-garde and in artistic forms, Pantenburg unearths an important chapter that has been overlooked: audiovisual critical programmes on German television of the 1970s. Indeed, the explanatory audiovisual essay blossomed in many European television cultures of the decade, but these examples are largely forgotten. As Pantenburg states, this selection ‘can help to shift the focus from questions of individual authorship to questions of infrastructures and institutional frameworks’.
We would like to take this opportunity to welcome two new editors to the review sections. Leo Goldsmith of New York University will work with Miriam de Rosa on the exhibition review section. We would like to thank outgoing editor Malin Wahlberg for her wonderful work during her time editing the exhibition review section. Victoria Pastor-González of Regent’s University London will work with Lavinia Brydon on the book review section. We would also like to thank outgoing editor Alena Strohmaier for all of her efforts during her time editing the book review section. Of course, our continued gratitude goes to Marijke de Valck and Skadi Loist, who do a brilliant job editing the film festival review section.
We would also like to announce the addition of two new members to the NECSUS editorial board, who will begin their work with the Spring 2018 issue. These new editors are Martine Beugnet of University of Paris 7 Diderot, and Belén Vidal of King’s College London. We extend a heartfelt thank you to our two outgoing founding editors Patricia Pisters and Dorota Ostrowska. Without their hard work and dedication NECSUS would not have survived and thrived these past six years, and indeed they have helped position the journal for success in the years to come. Their presences will be sorely missed.
The call for papers has now been released for the NECS annual conference, which will take place from 27-29 June 2018 in Amsterdam, organised by the University of Amsterdam, the Free University of Amsterdam, and Utrecht University. The theme for the 2018 conference is Media Tactics and Engagement. Together with VIEW: Journal of European Television History and Culture, and the Open Access in Media Studies website edited by Jeroen Sondervan, NECSUS will organise a post-conference workshop titled Open Access in Media Studies, to be held at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Image, Hilversum, on 30 June 2018. For more information about the workshop and registration please visit https://oamediastudies.com.
Finally, we are proud to announce that NECSUS is the newest member of the Open Humanities Press. Open Humanities Press (openhumanitiespress.org) is an international community of scholars, editors, and readers with a focus on critical and cultural theory. OHP has operated as an independent volunteer initiative since 2006, promoting open access scholarship in journals, books, and exploring new forms of scholarly communication.
We hope you enjoy this new issue of NECSUS and we look forward to receiving your submissions for consideration in the 2018 volume. As always, thank you for your support.