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Steven Willemsen, Mario Slugan, Elke Weissmann, and Lucy Bolton

Marina Grishakova and Maria Poulaki, eds. Narrative Complexity: Cognition, Embodiment, Evolution. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019, 468 pp., $75.00 (hardcover). ISBN: 9780803296862.

Maarten Coëgnarts. Film as Embodied Art: Bodily Meaning in the Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. Brookline: Academic Studies Press, 2019, xxxv + 228 pp., $120 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-64469-112-0. [Also available for free under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from Knowledge Unlatched, ISBN: 978-1-64469-113-7].

Marsha F . Cassidy. Television and the Embodied Viewer: Affect and Meaning in the Digital Age. New York: Routledge, 2020, 216 pp., $155.00, ISBN: 9781138240766.

Sarah Cooper. Film and the Imagined Image. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019, 208 pp., $24.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9781474452793.

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Bartosz Stopel

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.

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Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen

Morally flawed antiheroes in TV and film, such as Dexter Morgan and Dirty Harry, often inspire sympathetic engagement from audiences. Media scholars have argued that it is these antiheroes’ status as fictional characters that allows audiences to flout their moral principles and side with the antiheroes. Against this view, I argue that these problematic sympathies can be explained without reference to a special fictional attitude. Human morality is sensitive not only to abstract moral principles but also to the concrete motives and situations of an individual moral agent, and the motives and situations of the sympathetic antihero very often seem exculpatory.

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The Richness of a Narrative Arrest

Performance and Scenic Composition in the Cinema of William Wyler

Johannes Riis

The work of Hollywood director William Wyler offers a rewarding case for studying the narrative purposes of rhythmic variations. Film critics have traditionally viewed Wyler’s scenes in terms of depth of field but by looking for elements that weaken his pace, we can explain his acclaimed work as the result of how performance and picture jointly serve rhythmic purposes. My study distinguishes between two kinds of narrative arrests in Wyler’s films, 1935–1970. The unfocused arrests are critical for Wyler’s art and depend on actors’ techniques for adding emphasis and Wyler’s techniques for creating pictorial diversions. By halting dramatic progression during key scenes, Wyler seemingly expands the characters’ worlds with meanings in the spectator’s eyes. Finally, I show how changing technologies and narrative norms constrained Wyler’s later work.

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What Movie Will I Watch Today?

The Role of Online Review Ratings, Reviewers’ Comments, and Users’ Gratification Style

Nuno Piçarra, Níbia Silva, Teresa Chambel, and Patrícia Arriaga

Browsing online ratings and viewers’ comments is an integral part of the experience of choosing and watching a movie. Current theories have broadened the concept of entertainment beyond amusement (hedonic motives) to include experiences of meaning, value, and self-development (eudaimonic motives). With a between-subjects design, we examined the role of reviewers’ ratings (medium rating vs. high rating), comments (hedonic vs. eudaimonic) and participants’ gratification styles on their interest in watching a movie. Results showed that participants (N = 383) reported a higher preference for the high rating movie. Results also revealed a match between comment type and individual gratification style, with participants with hedonic motives reporting more interest for the movie with hedonic comments, and those reporting eudaimonic motives for the movie with eudaimonic comments.

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Nuno Piçarra, Níbia Silva, Teresa Chambel, and Patrícia Arriaga

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Phillip Joy

This image, Challenging Masculine Constructs by Oliver, is part of a photovoice project (see the article by Phillip Joy, Matthew Numer, Sara F. L. Kirk, and Megan Aston, Embracing a New Day: Exploring the Connections of Culture, Masculinities, Bodies, and Health for Gay Men through Photovoice, this issue) that explored the way culture and society shape the beliefs, values, and practices about food and bodies for gay men. Taken by the participant, this image is his way to challenge what he believes are limiting gender ideas for men and how masculine bodies should be dressed and presented to others. He disrupts these social constructs by dressing and presenting his body in ways he believed moved beyond typical masculine notions and by doing so reveals alternative gender expressions and new possibilities of living.

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Claire G. Davey, Frank G. Karioris, and Craig Owen

Steven Angelides. The Fear of Child Sexuality: Young People, Sex and Agency (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019), 272 pp. ISBN: 978-0-226-64863-7. Paperback, $30.00.

Stephan Torre. Red Obsidian: New & Selected Poems (Regina, Canada: University of Regina Press, 2021), 152 pp. ISBN 978-088-977775-0. Paperback, $19.95.

James W. Messerschmidt. Hegemonic Masculinity: Formulation, Reformulation, and Amplification (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), 181 pp. ISBN: 978-1-5381-1404-9. Paperback $32.00.

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Embracing a New Day

Exploring the Connections of Culture, Masculinities, Bodies, and Health for Gay Men through Photovoice

Phillip Joy, Matthew Numer, Sara F. L. Kirk, and Megan Aston


The construction of masculinities is an important component of the bodies and lives of gay men. The role of gay culture on body standards, body dissatisfaction, and the health of gay men was explored using poststructuralism and queer theory within an arts-based framework. Nine gay men were recruited within the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Participants were asked to photograph their beliefs, values, and practices relating to their bodies and food. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, using the photographs as guides. Data were analyzed by critical discourse analysis and resulted in three overarching threads of discourse including: (1) Muscles: The Bigger the Better, (2) The Silence of Hegemonic Masculinity, and (3) Embracing a New Day. Participants believed that challenging hegemonic masculinity was a way to work through body image tension.

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“Exfoliation, Cheese Courses, Emotional Honesty, and Paxil”

Masculinity, Neoliberalism, and Postfeminism in the US Hangout Sitcom

Greg Wolfman


This article applies a conjunctural analysis to four US “hangout sitcoms”—Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and New Girl—to examine the tensions faced by masculinities in a neoliberal era. After establishing the “hangout sitcom” subgenre, I use critical discourse analysis to unpack three male subject positions. The postfeminist male singleton reacts neurotically to a perceived loss of power with a desperate search for true love. The douchebag responds with excessive performances of both masculinity and neoliberal subjectivity, while the househusband's stable job and long-term heterosexual relationship reflect neoliberalism's relationships with intimacy and the family. I argue that the hangout sitcom, and specifically its representation of masculinities, offers an under-explored opportunity to examine the politics of masculinities, postfeminism, and neoliberalism.