How Many Emotions Does Film Studies Need?

A Phenomenological Proposal

in Projections
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  • 1 University of Groningen, Netherlands j.hanich@rug.nl
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Abstract

A look at current emotion research in film studies, a field that has been thriving for over three decades, reveals three limitations: (1) Film scholars concentrate strongly on a restricted set of garden-variety emotions—some emotions are therefore neglected. (2) Their understanding of standard emotions is often too monolithic—some subtypes of these emotions are consequently overlooked. (3) The range of existing emotion terms does not seem fine-grained enough to cover the wide range of affective experiences viewers undergo when watching films—a number of emotions might thus be missed. Against this background, the article proposes at least four benefits of introducing a more granular emotion lexicon in film studies. As a remedy, the article suggests paying closer attention to the subjective-experience component of emotions. Here the descriptive method of phenomenology—including its particular subfield phenomenology of emotions—might have useful things to tell film scholars.

Contributor Notes

Julian Hanich is Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Groningen. From 2017 to 2020 he was also Head of the Department of Arts, Culture and Media. He is the author of The Audience Effect: On the Collective Cinema Experience (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) and Cinematic Emotion in Horror Films and Thrillers: The Aesthetic Paradox of Pleasurable Fear (Routledge, 2010). He recently co-edited The Structures of the Film Experience by Jean-Pierre Meunier: Historical Assessments and Phenomenological Expansions (with Daniel Fairfax, Amsterdam University Press, 2019) and an issue of the journal NECSUS on “Emotions” (with Jens Eder and Jane Stadler, spring 2019). With Christian Ferencz-Flatz, he was responsible for an issue of Studia Phaenomenologica on “Film and Phenomenology” (2016). In his research, he focuses on film and imagination, cinematic emotions, film phenomenology, the collective cinema experience, and film style. E-mail: j.hanich@rug.nl

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind

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