Stanley Kubrick, Life and Legacy

15 - 19 July 2019

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Description and aim

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999), one of the greatest filmmakers of the last century, once claimed: “I’ve never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be, as is generally accepted, ‘don't try to fly too high’, or whether it might also be thought of as ‘forget the wax and feathers, and do a better job on the wings’.” The aim of the workshop “Stanley Kubrick, Life and Legacy”, hosted by the Lorentz Center, Leiden, on 15-19 July 2019, is to ascertain the current state of Kubrick Studies and what the future direction of research looks like. The workshop will bring together established and junior academics, postgraduates, artists and archivists, to discuss and debate the methodologies and approaches used to study and interpret Kubrick’s career. More importantly, we want to establish what it is that remains unknown about Kubrick and how we can work together collectively to fully understand the range of industrial, social, cultural, and artistic contexts in which he worked.

Twenty years have passed since Kubrick’s death in 1999 and the release of his last film, Eyes Wide Shut. This workshop will be an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Kubrick’s life and legacy, but also a chance to move beyond the confines of previous research methodologies. We will consider the impact of the Stanley Kubrick Archive and how they have changed the landscape of Kubrick Studies, as well as what the broader field of film studies can learn from the work undertaken. However, our endeavor is interdisciplinary, with the aim of establishing a mutual and permanent Kubrick community and a cohesive plan of research for the next five to ten years. Invited to participate are not only Kubrick scholars, but also academics from the fields of history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, musicology, linguistics, adaptation studies, as well as Kubrick’s collaborators, archivists shaping his legacy in museums around the globe, and artists reinterpreting his work for audiences. It is our hope that this diverse community will widen our horizons and unveil new landscapes.

Kubrick is a unique case in film history and theory.  The paucity of information about his method of work and unrealized projects and, generally, about his biography, has been supplanted by a vast collection of materials stored at the Stanley Kubrick Archive, University of the Arts, London, one of the largest public archives of a filmmaker in the world, at over 800 linear metres. Since the opening of the Archive in 2007, scores of scholars and fans have, published articles, essays and books, based either on their first-hand researches, or on other authors’ historical work. This new spring in Kubrick studies has brought unexpected, often fascinating findings, as well as heated debate among scholars about the significance of some sources, and their use or misuse.

The workshop is structured to incorporate key themes, to include methodological approaches, the Stanley Kubrick Archive, reception, fandom, influence, distribution, the “unknown” Kubrick, unmade films, and the future of Kubrick Studies. The intention is that, by the end of the workshop, delegates will have collaborated on establishing the groundwork for (a) a research plan/agenda for future Kubrick Studies; (b) a publication plan for a series of outputs (which may include an edited collection, methodological papers, a special issue of an academic journal and an expanded, revised and updated Kubrick bibliography); (c) plans for future public-facing activities; and (d) a Kubrick Scholars Network.


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