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Film as the Engine for Learning

A Model to Assess Film's Interest Raising Potential

Winnifred Wijnker, Ed S. Tan, Arthur Bakker, Tamara A. J. M. van Gog, and Paul H. M. Drijvers

Abstract

Film has been used for education ever since educators recognized its powerful potential for learning. But its educational application has been criticized throughout the decades for underuse of the distinctive potential of film: to raise interest. To understand more fully film's potential for learning, we propose a dynamic model of viewer interest and its underlying cognitive and emotional mechanisms (film's interest raising mechanisms or FIRM model). In addition, we present an analysis method for assessing the interestingness of films in learning contexts. Our model marries interest theories from cognitive film theory and educational psychology and captures the dynamics of interestingness across a film as depending on a balance between challenge posed and coping potential provided.

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How Many Emotions Does Film Studies Need?

A Phenomenological Proposal

Julian Hanich

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.

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The iAnimal Film Series

Activating Empathy Through Virtual Reality

Holly Cecil

Abstract

This article explores the innovative use of virtual reality (VR) technology in nonfiction documentary film formats by animal-advocacy organizations. I examine the potential of the VR medium to communicate the living and dying environments of factory-farmed animals, and to generate viewer empathy with the animal subjects in their short, commodified lives from birth to slaughterhouse. I present a case study of the iAnimal short film series produced by Animal Equality, which made its public debut at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Employing a critical animal studies framework, I engage Kathryn Gillespie's work on witnessing of the nonhuman condition as a method of academic research, and apply to it the embodied experience of virtual witnessing through virtual realty.

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Modernist Embodiment

Sisyphean Landscape Allegory in Cinema

David Melbye

Abstract

This article embarks from George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's embodied understanding of metaphor in linguistic contexts and proceeds beyond merely an extended notion of “visual” metaphor toward an operational understanding of the term “allegory” in the cinematic context. Specifically, a pattern of Sisyphean landscape allegory in a global array of postwar narrative cinema is identified and explored, in which a psychologically conflicted protagonist struggles against a resistant natural landscape, connoting varying degrees of existential “futility.” The recurrent experiential configuration of this modernist allegory on screen, especially in terms of its haptic dimensions, is explored for its ability to “invoke” social critique—as felt, visceral content.

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Mr. Hulot's Invisible Gorilla

Jacques Tati and Inattentional Blindness

Eric Faden, Aaron Mitchel, Alexander Murph, Taylor Myers, and Nathan C. Ryan

Abstract

This article examines the work of mid-century French filmmaker Jacques Tati. Tati suggested that his films allow more visual freedom to audiences and that audiences discover new material upon multiple viewings of his films. We review the scholarship on Tati, especially in relation to critic André Bazin's theories of realism, and then propose another model for understanding Tati's films: the psychological concept of inattentional blindness. The article then discusses our experiment using eye tracking technology to study how subjects watch Tati's films versus other types of cinema and also how they re-watch films. Finally, we applied several statistical and mathematical tests to the eye tracking data to understand key differences between Tati's films and other filmmaking practices.

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Muslim Girlhood, Skam Fandom, and DIY Citizenship

Briony Hannell

Abstract

While fandom is a dominant girlhood trope, few accounts examine faith in the context of girls’ fandom. Addressing this gap, using a feminist poststructural analysis, I draw on interviews and participant observation to locate fan communities as a space in which Muslim girls can enact citizenship. Combining youth cultural studies, girlhood studies, and fan studies, I explore how Muslim fangirls of the Norwegian teen web-drama Skam (2015–2017) draw on their desire for recognition and their creativity as cultural producers to engage in participatory storytelling that challenges popular representations of Muslim girls. This process enables the production of communities rooted in shared interests, experiences, and identities. I suggest that fandom should be recognized for its capacity to generate new meanings of citizenship for minority youth.

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Myths of Age and Sexual Maturity

Defining Girlhood in India: A Transnational History of Sexuality Maturity Laws

Iris Chui Ping Kam

Ashwini Tambe. 2019. Defining Girlhood in India: A Transnational History of Sexuality Maturity Laws. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

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New Subjectivities: Maasai Schoolgirlhood as Light and (Girl Effects) Logic

When the Light Is Fire: Maasai Schoolgirls in Contemporary Kenya

Megan Connor

Heather D. Switzer. 2018. When the Light Is Fire: Maasai Schoolgirls in Contemporary Kenya. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

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Prosthetic Vision and Postmortem Cinema

Anthony Enns

Abstract

The nineteenth-century science of “optography” was based on the idea that an image of the last thing seen at the moment of death would be imprinted on the retina. This idea was inspired by the invention of photography, which reinforced the mechanistic notion of the eye as a camera, and it was frequently criticized in nineteenth-century literary texts, in which eyes more often record images generated from within the mind. Belief in optography began to wane at roughly the same time that cinema became a popular form of entertainment, but it continued to appear in several films in which severed eyes function as cameras or optical implants are used to record visual impressions that can be viewed after the death of the subject. This article examines how these optographic narratives continued to reinforce the mechanistic notion of visual perception on which film technology was thought to depend.

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Review

Marissa C. de Baca

Erin Y. Huang. Urban Horror: Neoliberal Post-Socialism and the Limits of Visibility (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020). 288 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4780-0809-5 / 978-1-4780-0679-4; (paperback, $26.95; hardback, $99.05)