Putting the Culture into Bioculturalism

A Naturalized Aesthetics and the Challenge of Modernism

in Projections
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In Chapter 6 of Film, Art, and the Third Culture, Murray Smith argues for a biocultural account of the emotions, which treats them as an interaction between universal and cultural dimensions. He goes on to test this approach in relation to the representation of emotions in films by considering an example from the tradition of modernist filmmaking. This article suggests that, while Smith’s case is broadly convincing, there are several ways in which it could be presented more forcefully. In particular, his discussion of the challenge of modernism to a biocultural account could be strengthened by emphasizing rather than downplaying the role that various types of cultural knowledge play in our interaction with modernist works.