Northwestern Events Calendar


The Chaplin Files

When: Friday, October 21, 2016
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Central

Where: Crowe Hall, Room 2-130, 1860 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Graduate Students

Cost: $0

Contact: Phil Hoskins   (847) 491-5490

Group: Department of French and Italian

Category: Academic


Graduate Student Luncheon Workshop

The Department of FRENCH & ITALIAN Lecture Series

**For a copy of the paper, please email FRENCH-ITALIAN@NORTHWESTERN.EDU

While much has been written about the impact of Charlie Chaplin’s comedy and film persona on the historical avant-garde, I reassess Chaplin’s status at a critical juncture in the post-World War II period: 1952, when the Guy Debord, Jean Brau, Serge Berna and Gil J. Wolman disrupted a press conference associated with the French release of Chaplin’s new film Limelight (Feux de la Rampe, 1951, Charles Chaplin, Celebrated Productions).

With this public intervention, Debord and company made a decisive break from the Lettrists headed by Isidore Isou, reconfiguring themselves as the Internationale Lettriste (soon to become the International Situationiste). Drawing on the earlier history concerning the Surrealists’s defense of Chaplin in 1927 with their tract “Hands off Love,” this paper aims to understand Chaplin’s enduring yet changing economic, political, affective, and cultural capital among the avant-garde that, far beyond his invention of modernist comedic style, made Chaplin a potent symbol and target for achieving what the IL conceived as the most urgent goal in the post-war period: liberty, and the “destruction of all idols, above all when they claim an affiliation with liberty” (Internationale Lettriste, no. 1, 1952)

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