I would like to start off this issue's note by thanking everyone who has been part of a really impressive team effort to keep Projections running even while ordinary life has been upended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes referees and authors, who have had to juggle deadlines with a variety of other commitments, associate editors Tim Smith and Aaron Taylor (as well as acting associate editor Katalin Bálint—more on which soon!), and Janine Latham and the production team at Berghahn. Thank you all for going out of your way to continue working on the journal in spite of everything else that has been going on, including some significant personal challenges for some of you.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can feel like there is never any good news. But there is, and we need to celebrate it when the opportunity arises. Congratulations to associate editor Tim Smith, who has recently welcomed a new family member into the world! Tim will be on parental leave for the rest of 2020, and I am very grateful to Katalin Bálint for accepting the invitation to serve as acting associate editor during this time. Katalin holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Pecs, has held a number of prestigious postdoctoral fellowships throughout Europe, and is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Science at VU Amsterdam. Welcome Katalin!
Our issue begins with an empirical study that investigates the effect of “breaking the fourth wall” upon the enjoyment of motion pictures. “Breaking the fourth wall,” which involves characters seemingly addressing the audience directly and thus “breaking” the imaginary wall the separates the world of the fiction and the world of reality, is hypothesized to abet what the authors call “parasocial interaction”—a term that draws attention to the fact that viewers’ “interaction” with characters in motion pictures sometimes parallels real social interaction in various ways, since it draws upon the same sorts of cognitive and affective capacities that we deploy in real life.
Our second article takes a more theoretical approach. Drawing upon empirical and theoretical work in the interdisciplinary field of embodied cognition, Maarten Coëgnarts analyzes the ways in which filmmaker Éric Rohmer's visual style is underpinned by concepts that are central to our apprehension of everyday life as essentially embodied. One of the interesting things about Coëgnarts's analysis is that it is more than an application of “theory”; rather, he notes, his analysis makes clear that it predicts but does not demonstrate how viewers experience the embodied film style his article describes. That task, he notes, would need to be achieved by additional empirical work that would test his theoretical claims.
The centrepiece of our issue is a book symposium dedicated to Todd Berliner's Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema (2017). One of the features that makes Berliner's book particularly conducive to a symposium is that—like our two articles—it balances empirical and theoretical claims and engages with relevant research across a number of disciplines. Commenting on Berliner's book is a stellar group of scholars: James Cutting from psychology, Murray Smith from aesthetics, and Janet Staiger and Patrick Keating from film studies. I hope you find the dialogue as productive and enriching as I did. We have had a lot of positive feedback about these book symposia in the last few issues. Please get in touch if you have a proposal for a future book symposium.
Rounding out the issue is a group of book reviews devoted to the topic of video games.