A Pragmatic Framework for the Cognitive Study of Documentary

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Abstract

Traditionally, there has been little intersection between cognitive film theory and documentary studies. This article initially outlines the main reasons for this lacuna, but it also highlights the few existing exceptions. While these remain too embryonic to initiate a large, overarching, and evolving discourse, they constitute seminal landmarks and stepping stones for the future of cognitive documentary studies, which, as we argue, needs to be a pragmatic endeavor. Based on this premise, we propose a research framework consisting of four areas of interest: the mediation of realities; character engagement; emotion and embodied experience; and documentary practice. This framework takes into account intratextual and extratextual aspects in relation to documentary production and reception, as well as potential social impacts.

Contributor Notes

Catalin Brylla is Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of West London. Focusing on documentary studies, cognitive film theory, phenomenology, visual anthropology, and research-led film practice, his work aims for a pragmatic understanding of documentary spectatorship in relation to experience, empathy, and narrative comprehension. He has coedited, with Helen Hughes, Documentary and Disability (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and is currently writing a book on stereotypes and spectatorship in documentary film. Email: catalin.brylla@uwl.ac.uk

Mette Kramer is a Film Lecturer at the University of Copenhagen. She has written on emotion and cognitive film theory in a number of Danish and international film journals and anthologies. She has published the edited collection Cognitive Theory and Documentary Film (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) together with Catalin Brylla. She is currently finishing a book project on attachment, cognition, and affect. Email: kram@hum.ku.dk

Projections

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