Engaging “Authors”

in Projections
Author: Brian Boyd 1
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  • 1 University of Auckland b.boyd@auckland.ac.nz
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David Bordwell’s Narration in the Fiction Film is a uniquely valuable overview of narration in one medium, lucid, rigorous, rational, broadly comprehensive and finely detailed, and unequalled in any other narrative medium. But Bordwell proposes that the cognitive activity of the viewer of a fiction film is to construct the story from the film. While true, and brilliantly analyzed by Bordwell, this omits an important part of our cognitive activity: our engagement with the “author” or filmmaker, an essential part of our engagement with any fiction (or for that matter non-fiction), a response not confined to films by auteurs or to high literary fiction. Our compulsion and capacity to engage with characters, actors, and filmmakers reflects our sophisticated cognition, including our ability to respond to multiple levels of intentionality and our swift emotional attunement.

Contributor Notes

Brian Boyd, University Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Auckland, has published widely on Vladimir Nabokov (annotations, bibliographies, biographies, criticism, editions, translations), on literature from Homer to the present, especially Shakespeare and Spiegelman, and on evolution and cognition and art/literature, especially On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition and Fiction (Harvard University Press, 2009) and Why Lyrics Last: Evolution, Cognition, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Harvard University Press, 2012), and the coedited Evolution, Literature, and Film: A Reader (Columbia University Press, 2010). His work has appeared in 19 languages and has won awards on four continents. He is currently researching a biography of Karl Popper.


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