A Cognitive-Affective Approach to Foregrounding Categorical-Thematic Patterns in Popular Cinema

in Projections
Author:
Bartosz Stopel University of Silesia, Poland bartosz.stopel@us.edu.pl

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Abstract

The article sets out to discuss disruptions of the embodied flow of movie perception triggered by foregrounded categorical-thematic patterns. First, categorical-thematic patterns are framed in a cognitive perspective and tied to categorical (or parallel) information processing as opposed schematic (sequential). I argue that the former are not prototypical of embodied movie perception and tend to be disruptive if foregrounded, as they are more prevalent in art cinema. Next, I indicate how categorical-thematic patterns may encourage a type of non-habitual pattern recognition producing a number of emotional and aesthetic effects: delight at pattern isolation, wonder emotions, emotional focus of a story theme, and intensification or modulation of global and empathetic emotions. Finally, I turn to illustrate these points using Pan's Labyrinth, a film that systematically foregrounds categorical-thematic patterns yet naturalizes them, alleviating disruption of movie perception. This, I believe, marks an effective strategy of importing avant-garde film techniques into popular cinema.

Contributor Notes

Bartosz Stopel is associate professor of literary studies at University of Silesia, Poland. His research interests include cognitive-affective approaches to literature and film. His last book is From Mind to Text: Continuities and Breaks Between Cognitive, Aesthetic and Textualist Approaches to Literature (Routledge: 2018). Email: bartosz.stopel@us.edu.pl

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Projections

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