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Affective Intermediality. Cinema between Media, Sensation and Reality

  • Exploratory Research Project supported by a grant of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization, CNCS - UEFISCDI, project number PN-III-P4-PCE-2021-1297, within PNCDI III, 01. 06. 2022 – 31. 12. 2024.



This research aims to accomplish a complex investigation into what we propose to term "affective intermediality". We see this as a necessary and logical extension of the line of thinking that conceives intermediality not in semiotic terms, as a set of abstract categories and combinations (i.e. a kind of grammar), but – drawing on phenomenology and various philosophical sources – as a "poetics", an art of in-betweenness, or as a "sensual excess", "as a perceivable figure of media difference which disturbs the order of the discourse" (Joachim Paech). We attempt to map a wider area where "an affective turn" of intermediality studies can be conceived and where a focus on affects and sensations can yield a better understanding of the ways in which intermediality "works", and intermedial phenomena can establish "passages to physical reality" (Lúcia Nagib). Through in-depth case studies focusing on a wide selection from recent films made all over the world, with a special attention given also to films made by women, we propose an investigation into the affordances of intermedial cinema in conveying and generating specific "sensibilities", in experimenting with the representability and affective accessibility of a traumatic past or with the combination of emotional engagement and reflexive distantiation. We emphasize the epistemic value of intermediality: its capacity to generate feelings and revelations about the world.

We propose a threefold research:
1. A theoretical exploration with the aim of initiating a new approach in intermediality studies defined as "affective intermediality". Our general theoretical goal is to define this approach conceptually and to identify key areas where this should be implemented. We aim to theorize intermediality from the vantage points of affects, sensations connecting the experience of intermediality to reality. We propose to investigate the affective and performative role of intermediality, and to search for theoretical tools to describe such processes.
2. An examination of poetic strategies and tropes through which an "affective intermediality" is manifested in contemporary cinema. Our goal in this respect is to identify and interpret relevant poetic strategies (also to further refine the general modalities constituting the "structural" and the "sensual" templates of cinematic intermediality, considering also the ways they can merge).
3. An exploration of specific sensations and feelings communicated through intermediality, and an examination of ways in which impressions of media ambivalences (i.e. "sensations of intermediality") occur.

The estimated scientific results: research articles accepted in scientific journals indexed in international databases, submission of at least one book proposal related to the theme of the project for publication at a prestigious international publishing house, editing two special issues of the international journal Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies (indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection - ESCI) dedicated to the topic of the research project, organizing one large-scale international conference and two smaller workshops to initiate international debate and to consolidate the scientific paradigm promoted in the research project, creating a website, recording and making publicly available (on a You Tube Channel linked to the website) some of the guest lectures, presentations at the workshops and at the conference.

Duration of the program: 1 June 2022 – 31 December 2024.


Principal Investigator (PI): ÁGNES PETHŐ, PhD, Professor of Film Studies

Members of the research team:
HAJNAL KIRÁLY, PhD, experienced researcher
JUDIT PIELDNER, PhD, Associate Professor (Post-doc researcher)
MELINDA BLOS-JÁNI, PhD, Assistant Professor (Post-doc researcher)
KATALIN SÁNDOR, PhD, Assistant Professor (Post-doc researcher)


Organization of scientific events (workshops & conferences)

The first international workshop organized within the project:

Participation in international conferences

The NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) Conference. Epistemic Media: Atlas, Archive, Network. Bucharest (Romania), 22-26. 06. 2022.
The conference programme can be accessed here. The team proposed and presented a panel promoting the research project entitled:  Affective Intermediality. Cinema between Media, Sensation, and Reality, and disseminated early results of the project. In addition, one member also presented a paper in the panel, Film History beyond the Limelight: Cineclub Culture in Romania. Institutions, Visual Formats and Curatorial Practices.

Papers presented at this conference:

  • Ágnes Pethő: Intermediality, Affect and Performativity in the Collage Films of Radu Jude
  • Judit Pieldner: In between the Epistemic and the Affective. Michael Haneke: Time of the Wolf
  • Katalin Sándor: Picturesque, Affective, and Political. Cinematic Landscape in Valeska Grisebach’s Western (2017)
  • Hajnal Király: Living the Films: Dramatization, Reenactment and Intermediality as Scene of Professional Sensitivity Training
  • Melinda Blos-Jáni: The Small Gauge Film between Leisure and Science. Notes on the Romanian Amateur Cineclub Movement

The 'Little Apparatus." 100 Years of 9,5 mm Film. International conference hosted online by the Department of Film Studies and the Centre For International Film Research at the University of Southampton (UK), 16-18. 06. 2022.

Paper presented at this conference:

  • Melinda Blos-Jáni: Negotiating Media Specificity. Three Amateur Filmmakers in Transylvania from the Interwar Period

Visible Evidence: Images of History. University of Gdansk (Poland), 10-14. 08. 2022. Full programme of the conference can be accessed here.

Paper presented at this conference:

  • Kamilla Simor: Colour as a Temporal Layer: the Problem of Colourizing, Transforming and Digitally Rearranging Archival Footage from the Spanish Civil War.

6th International Society for Intermedial Studies Conference. In Between and Across: New Directions, Mappings and Contact Zones. Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin (Ireland), 1-3. 09. 2022. The full programme of the conference can be accessed here.

We proposed a preconstituted panel with the title Cinema's Affective Intermediality, and presented the following papers:

  • Ágnes Pethő: Towards an Affective Turn in Intermediality Studies
  • Judit Pieldner: Towards the Other (Arts). Affective Intermediality in Sally Potter's Films
  • Melinda Blos-Jáni: From Picturesque Landscapes to Haptic Sensations. Documentaries about the Danube Delta.


Articles in scientific journals indexed in international databases:

  • Ágnes Pethő: The Exquisite Corpse of History. Radu Jude and the Intermedial Collage. Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies, 2022. vol. 21: 36-100. DOI: 10.2478/ausfm-2022-0003. (Indexed in several international databases, e.g. in Web of Science Core Collection Emerging Sources Citation Index - ESCI, ERIH plus, etc.)
  • Sándor Katalin: Transznacionális elmozdulások Valeska Grisebach Western (2017) című filmjében.[Transnational Displacements in Valeska Grisebach's film, Western (2017)] Erdélyi Múzeum, 2022. 3. sz. megjelenés előtt. (CNCS  B kategóriás folyóirat, következő nemzetközi adatbázisokban jegyzett: ERIH PLUS, CEEOL, Index Copernicus)


  • Hajnal Király: The Cinema of Manoel de Oliveira. Modernity, Intermediality and the Uncanny.
    New York, Bloomsbury Academic, 2022. ISBN: 9781501378638




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