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Monstrous Genres: Inverting the Romantic Poetics in Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl

Eliza Deac

Abstract

This article revisits questions of embodiment (screen and otherwise) with regard to one of the most representative first-generation hypertext fictions—Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl—in order to show how this new genre’s search for identity takes the form of a programmatic inversion of the principles underlying the Romantic poetics and imagery and of a conscious identification with the forms that established views of literature exiled from its realm. The analysis follows the train of metaphorical oppositions deriving from the contrast that Patchwork Girl sets up between book and hypertext by presenting itself as a derivative of Mary Shelley’s novel embodied in a monster (re)born from discarded pieces (of prose or flesh) as opposed to the beautiful and harmonious body that is the book.

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Pain and the Cinesthetic Subject in Black Swan

Steen Ledet Christiansen

Abstract

Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) produces a cinesthetic subject that articulates issues of gendered violence but at the same time also opens up space for producing a new subject outside of biopower. Tracing the production of pain as a way of feeling gendered violence rather than simply understanding it, the article also argues that Nina Sawyer’s transformation is an act of subversive becoming. Pain is produced by the film’s formal properties, pulling us along as viewers, and producing new modes of sensing biopower’s cultural techniques and subjugation of bodies. At the same time, pain becomes a path to a new mode of being.

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Reviews

Peter Lurie, Antonio Sanna, Hansen Hsu, Ella Houston, and Kristof van Baarle

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Ruined Abjection and Allegory in Deadgirl

Sol Neely

Abstract

Deadgirl (2008) is a horror film that gained notoriety on the film-festival circuit for its disturbing premise: when a group of teenage social outcasts discover a naked female zombie strapped to a gurney in the basement of an abandoned asylum, they decide “to keep her” as a sex slave. Accordingly, two sites of monstrosity are staged—one with the monstrous-feminine and the other with monstrous masculinities. Insofar as the film explicitly exploits images of abjection to engender its perverse pleasures, it would seem to invite “abject criticism” in the tradition of Barbara Creed, Carol Clover, and colleagues. However, in light of recent critical appraisals about the limitations of “abject criticism,” this article reads Deadgirl as a cultural artifact that demands we reassess how abjection is critically referenced, arguing that—instead of reading abjection in terms of tropes and themes—we should read it in diachronic, allegorical ways, which do not reify into cultural representation.

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Screened Women

Brian Bergen-Aurand

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Whose Club Is It Anyway?: The Problematic of Trans Representation in Mainstream Films——“Rayon” and Dallas Buyers Club

Akkadia Ford

Abstract

Dallas Buyers Club (2013) offers a stereotypical representation of trans themes and images that do not fit contemporary gender-diverse communities, creating negative images and damaging connotations that could last for years. This article explores the stereotypical characterization and clichéd narrative devices deployed to create the fictitious character of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club and examines the ongoing problematic of trans representation within mainstream cinematic texts by comparing Dallas Buyers Club with The Crying Game (1992), Boys Don’t Cry (1999), and Transamerica (2005). To contextualize the ongoing issues raised by the film and its screenplay, this article reads Rayon as one example in a long line of socially proscribed Hollywood “fallen women,” here, with the narrative displaced onto the transgender body.

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Cinemautism

Steven Eastwood

Abstract

The National Autistic Society defines autism as affecting “how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people and how they make sense of the world around them.” People with autism often seek regulation of experience in order to manage the difficulty in inferring and understanding the provisional knowledge and subjectivities of others. Much like the neurotypical “other people” described by those with autism, the on-screen assemblage of normative cinema appears to know what to reveal, what to conceal, where and how to be. However, such a cinema is also required to be regulated, so as to be socialized to the reception and response of “others” (the audience) through normative techniques. But when and how might the much-debated screen-mind relationship produce a frustration of otherness or tamper with an audience’s ability to ascribe provisional knowledge to others? And what can the cinema learn from the autistic experience? This article proposes a form of cinema—cinemautism—to challenge a neurotypical cinematic form.

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Digitizing the Western Gaze

The End FGM Guardian Global Media Campaign

Jessica Cammaert

Abstract

The increasing digitization of print media has resulted in the expansion of female genital mutilation (FGM) eradication efforts from print articles, editorials and novels, to online newspapers. The Guardian recently launched an online “End FGM Guardian Global Media Campaign,” incorporating video, film, and multimedia. This report reviews the digitization of FGM eradication efforts by comparing End FGM to past anti-female circumcision screen texts. Focusing on a film featured in the campaign, Shara Amin and Nabaz Ahmed’s 2007 documentary, A Handful of Ash, this report applies a post-colonial feminist critique of gender, sexuality and colonialism to examine how the digitization of pain and suffering is mobilized and consumed. Comparing the film to anti-circumcision screen texts, Ousmane Sembène’s Moolaadé and Sherry Hormann’s Desert Flower, this report historicizes the global media campaign and highlights its’ repackaging of past imperialist discourses on the body in new digitized ways.

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Embodiment, Curation, Exhibition

Douglas Gordon’s “Pretty much every film and video work from about 1992 until now”

Jiaying Sim

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Monstrous Masses

The Human Body as Raw Material

John Marmysz

Abstract

This article investigates the varied reactions of audiences to cinematic depictions of the human body as objectified raw material. The investigation proceeds, first, by explicating an ontological distinction between being-in-itself and being-for-itself, which in turn allows for a clarification of the processes involved in the objectification of one human being by another. The article then argues that in films where depictions of bodily objectification are pushed to an extreme—such as The Human Centipede, Nymphomaniac, and Videodrome—a potentially positive, empathic potential is unlocked in audiences. Rather than simply resulting in the humilation of human characters, such films encourage audiences to experience a kind of sympathy for the characters that is related to, but not distinct from, other horrific, humorous, and erotic feelings. The article concludes that the objectification of human bodies in film is both unavoidable and a potentially positive moral exercise.