HOLLYWOOD’S PHYSICIANS Area
2008 Film & History Conference
“Film & Science: Fictions, Documentaries, and Beyond”
October 30-November 2, 2008
Third-Round Deadline: August 1, 2008
AREA: Hollywood’s Physicians
Throughout the history of motion pictures, physicians have played prominent roles both
as the subjects of film and as pivotal characters within the storyline. As sworn guardians
of human life, cinematic MDs have represented the best and worst of human nature—
variously portraying nurturers, visionaries, mavericks, charlatans, and madmen. The
Hollywood’s Physicians Area examines some of the great moral, ethical, and social
questions of human existence, such as “What constitutes life?” “Who decides who lives
and who dies?” “Where are the boundaries between God and Man?” and “When do the
gifts of science endanger humanity?” These questions join those treating the cultural
standards of beauty, the artificial prolongation of life, and genetic research and
engineering. Cinematic attempts to respond to or resolve these conflicts often represent
wider cultural conversations, as well as influencing the tide of public opinion.
This area seeks papers related to the study of “Hollywood’s Physicians.” The list could
be significant—ranging from Madame Curie to The Boys of Brazil (Dr. Mengele). But
aside from this extreme range, other doctors have played significant roles in motion
pictures—ranging in variety from surgeons (The Fugitive) and psychiatrists (One Flew
over the Cuckoo’s Nest) to administrators (The Hospital and, on recent television,
House)—in comedic and dramatic roles. This brief listing should spark the imagination.
Did Dr. Watson ever see a patient in the Sherlock Holmes films of the 1930s and 40s? Or
was “Dr.” sufficient to qualify the character as a certain kind of authority. Film and
television physicians reveal as much about Hollywood—and its audience—as about
Please send your 250 word proposal by August 1, 2008 to Area Chair:
Erwin F. Erhardt, III, Ph.D.
Department of Economics
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0371
Submissions by email are encouraged.
Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must
submit his or her own paper proposal. Third-round deadline: August 1, 2008.
This area, comprising multiple panels, is a part of the 2008 biennial Film & History
Conference, sponsored by The Center for the Study of Film and History. Speakers will
include founder John O’Connor and editor Peter C. Rollins (in a ceremony to celebrate
the transfer to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh); Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of
Visions of the Apocalypse, Disaster and Memory, and Lost in the Fifties: Recovering
Phantom Hollywood; and Sidney Perkowitz, Charles Howard Candler Professor of
Physics at Emory University and author of Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, & the
End of the World. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting,
see the Film & History website (www.uwosh.edu/filmandhistory).