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“Dreamland”

Black Girls Saying and Creating Space through Fantasy Worlds

S.R. Toliver

Abstract

The rampant murder of Black women and girls in the United States proves that this place is not safe for them. In fact, it is questionable whether any space currently known can be safe when antiblackness and misogynoir are interwoven into the fabric of our world. For this reason, researchers must explore the unbound landscapes Black girls create for themselves in fantastic narratives. In this article, I examine the fantasy short stories of two Black middle school girls who participated in a writing workshop to explore how they resisted spatial control by creating new worlds they had the power to construct and dismantle.

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Enacting Moving Images

Film Theory and Experimental Science within a New Cognitive Media Theory

Joerg Fingerhut and Katrin Heimann

Abstract

This article highlights ways to relate psychology, neuroscience, and film theory that are underrepresented in the current debate and that could contribute to a new cognitive media theory. First, we outline how neuroscientific approaches to moving images could be embedded in the embodied, enactive cognition framework and recent predictive processing theories of the brain. Within this framework, we understand filmic engagement as a specific way of worldmaking, which is co-constituted by formal elements such as framing, camerawork, and editing. Second, we address experimental progress. Here we weigh the promises and perils of neuroscientific studies by discussing the motor neuron account to camera movements as an example. Based on the limitations we identify, we advocate for a multi-method study of film experience that brings cognitive science into dialogue with philosophical accounts and qualitative in-depth explorations of subjective experience.

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Enactive Authorship

Second-Order Simulation of the Viewer Experience—A Neurocinematic Approach

Pia Tikka

Abstract

The neurocinematic inquiry is extended in this article to the sparsely studied topic of the filmmaker (author) as an embodied agent. Departing from my concept of second-order authorship, and inspired by the second-person framework of intersubjectivity discussed by Michael Pauen and Vittorio Gallese, I propose a model in which the author simulates the viewer (experient) who further simulates the experience of the protagonist in the film. This chain of relations is described as enactive second-order simulation of the viewer experience. While the author does not have a direct key to influence the experient, there is a relation mediated by the protagonist's situatedness in the film's narrative context. I further trust the core assumption of the neurocinematic approach—namely, that film as a narrative medium provides a means to imitate contexts of life that condition the enactive simulation of both the author and the experient.

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Hostile Geographies

Black Girls Fight to Save Themselves and the World

Dehanza Rogers

Abstract

In this article, I engage in a parallel reading of the consumption of Black girlhood in speculative fiction in the television series The Passage, and the film The Girl with All the Gifts, and in the classroom. In these texts are nonconsensual attempts to harvest biological materials from Black girls, exhibiting the belief that Black bodies are utilitarian, at best, and meant for consumption. Like these narratives, the classroom consumes Black girls physically along with their futures. I explore how Black girl resistance disrupts such consumption and interrogate texts in which Black girls create narratives for themselves. In these narratives, so-called disposable Black girls map out new cartographies of narrative resistance and new liberatory geographies for their future.

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How Movie Events Engage Childrens’ Brains to Combine Visual Attention with Domain-Specific Processing Involving Number and Theory of Mind in a Cinematic Arena

Daniel T. Levin, Andrew Mattarella-Micke, Madison J. Lee, Lewis J. Baker, Matthew A. Bezdek, and Bruce D. McCandliss

Abstract

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we tested the hypothesis that cinematic structure shapes variation in social-cognitive brain activity. Using our film, we completed an exploratory analysis of how activations in the temporal-parietal junction (TPJ), and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) are shaped by variations in insert shots (e.g., shots showing objects that a character has looked at), and by character entrances and exits. We found that IPS and TPJ consistently responded to insert shots, and the correlation between TPJ and IPS responses significantly predicted the prevalence of belief inferences during the sequence. In addition, TPJ responded significantly to entrances and exits of characters. We also completed a qualitative analysis of moments during a sequence that induced relative peaks in TPJ and IPS responding. These analyses not only demonstrate that consistent brain responses can distinguish among meaningful variations in cinematic events but also that these analyses confirm and refine our understanding of the apparent specializations for visual attention and domain-specific event processing in parietal attention networks.

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How to Be a Moderate Optimist about Neuroscience in Film Theory and Other Places

William P. Seeley

Abstract

Research in cognitive science and aesthetics is on the rise. The skeptical position called moderate pessimism grants that neuroscience might play a role in theorizing about the nature of film and other arts, but offers little help with thorny conceptual questions key to understanding the nature of the arts. Moderate optimists note that the scope of neuroscientific research in the arts cannot be resolved in advance. I evaluate the debate between these positions, introduce a diagnostic recognition framework for neuroscience of film and, drawing on research from the neurophysiology of attention, explore the role the framework can play in discussions of narrative understanding and character engagement at the movies. I conclude that moderate optimism is a more promising methodological fit to collaborative research in neuroscience of film.

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Introduction

Places of Progress? Technology Museums, Memory, and Education

Christian Kehrt and Daniel Brandau

“Revolutionary” technologies or large technological systems are often deemed controversial, risky, or ambivalent. Diverging interpretations clash when technological objects, such as rockets, airplanes, or nuclear reactors, are exhibited in museums or at heritage sites, with profound implications for underlying concepts of historical education. This special issue explores the argument that histories of technology have often upheld a traditional view of modern linear progress but became the focus of controversies when the social, political, and cultural conditions of perceiving and remembering these objects changed. At former “places of progress,” visitors and exhibition makers are confronted with the remains of the Industrial Revolution, colonialism, two World Wars, the Cold War, the Age of Coal, the Space Age, the Atomic Age and the Digital Age. Exhibitions and displays have been used to explain, teach, or make sense of the advents, successes, and failures of high-tech projects. Understanding technological artifacts and corresponding sites such as Chernobyl, Peenemünde, and Hiroshima as well as structures such as factories or bunkers as sites of memory (lieux de mémoire, a term coined by Pierre Nora) shifts our attention to processes of remembering modern technologies and the cases in which established narratives of progress have been supported or challenged. Questions about the ethics of technology use often seem to subvert stories of the “heroes of invention,” leaving visitors with the impression of technological ambivalence. Attempts to teach and learn about history and technology via objects and sites have been complicated, politicized, and contested.

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The Neuroscience of Film

Vittorio Gallese and Michele Guerra

Abstract

In the last decades, the contribution of cognitive neuroscience to film studies has been invested in at least three different lines of research. The first one has to do with film theory and history: the new attention, inspired by cognitive neuroscience, to the viewer's brain-body, the sensorimotor basis of film cognition, and the forms of embodied simulation elicited by the cinematic experience has stimulated a profound rethinking of a relevant part of the theoretical discourse on cinema, from the very beginning of the twentieth century to the most recent reflections within cognitive film studies and the phenomenology of film. The second line has to do with the intersubjective relationship between the movie—its style, rhythm, characters, and narrative—and the viewer, and it is characterized by an empirical approach that yields very interesting results, useful for rethinking and problematizing our ideas about editing, camera movements, and film reception. The third line concerns a possible experimental approach to the new life of film, focusing on the digital image, the innovative forms of technological mediation, and the inscription of a new film spectatorship within a completely different medial frame. The goal of this special issue is to offer insights across these lines of research.

Open access

Peenemünde Contested

Remembering Second World War Technologies in Rural East Germany from 1984 to 1992

Daniel Brandau

Abstract

Given Peenemünde's ambivalent military and technological history, from rocket development during the Nazi period to East German naval and air bases during the Cold War, its musealization was considered both a chance and challenge during the region's deindustrialization in the 1990s. Local residents’ support of veteran engineers promoting an apologetic view of Nazi rocketry was met with bewilderment. However, a space park project and anniversary event were spearheaded by government and industry representatives, turning a regional affair into an international controversy. The article analyzes the function of memory work and the remembrance of technological progress in rural northeastern Germany before and after German reunification. Based on archival sources and interviews with former officers and museum advocates, it traces the Peenemünde museum project through a history of ideological and biographical caesurae, enthusiasm, political promises, and socioeconomic despair.

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Renewed Possibilities

Showcasing the Lived Realities of Black Girls using Ethnopoetics

Dywanna Smith

Abstract

In this article, I explore how ethnopoetics can be a profound research methodology and can also offer a pathway to self-actualization. When ethnopoetics is combined with a Black feminist/womanist theoretical framework, it allows for Black girls to self-define and self-validate their existence. The verse novel provides an opportunity to communicate Black girls’ and women's feelings and experiences to researchers and educators in accessible ways. It also serves as a platform to grieve, praise, love, and grow. Such work stands in marked contrast to dominant narratives of Black girlhood.