MAY 15-17th,  2015  

For more information or inquiries, email: poeticsandpolitics@ucsc.edu  or ireneg@ucsc.edu

In April 2013, an international group of documentary scholars and scholar-practitioners assembled at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland to participate in the Poetics and Politics of Documentary Research Symposium

The symposium was designed to both showcase and theorize non-fiction work from the zones between poetics and politics, image and word, theory and practice.  The call for papers was aimed at researchers working on art-based, documentary research projects and it welcomed a wide range of proposals and approaches. The second iteration of Poetics and Politics Documentary Research Symposium, which will take place May 15-17th, 2015 at the University of California Santa Cruz.

As was the case at the  2013 conference, this conference will provide an invaluable context for documentary-based research that both troubles and reinvigorates the  discrepant categories of scholarly “theory” and cultural “practice.” The symposium invites participants whose work frames, historicizes, or embodies questions about the various possible relations of theory to practice in documentary research. The symposium reflects a variety of approaches to documentary from a range of fields including film, video, new media,  art practice, media and visual culture studies, visual anthropology and ethnography.

In recent years, post-structuralist, post-colonial and feminist thought have persuasively destabilized documentary as a fact-based, convention-bound and putatively objective social or scientific practice. We continue this critical approach by asking: what is the scope of documentary making as a political and poetic form? In line with the first iteration of this conference, we conceptualize documentary practice as encompassing multiple media and outcomes. We conceive ‘practice’ most broadly to include, without being limited to, moving image media, digital media, writing, photography, installation, performance, archiving and programming, among other forms, either as individual or hybrid practices in which more than a single medium are in dialogue.

The symposium aims to provoke discussion on the scope of documentary making practices and aesthetics, to analyze and foster communities for its continuing critical practice. We aim to create innovative panels that will bring scholar-practitioners into conversation about making as thinking. Our keynote speakers is Kevin Jerome Everson (University of Virginia).



  1. Hello,
    Are you interested in installation works? I don’t want to propose a paper but a documentary installation in a space/gallery.
    Shannon Harris

    1. hi Shannon,
      yes, as long as the installation addresses conference themes, we’re happy to receive your proposal. We have space for a select number of installed projects but unfortunately no budget for materials or installation in to the space.

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