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Catalin Brylla and Mette Kramer

Abstract

Traditionally, there has been little intersection between cognitive film theory and documentary studies. This article initially outlines the main reasons for this lacuna, but it also highlights the few existing exceptions. While these remain too embryonic to initiate a large, overarching, and evolving discourse, they constitute seminal landmarks and stepping stones for the future of cognitive documentary studies, which, as we argue, needs to be a pragmatic endeavor. Based on this premise, we propose a research framework consisting of four areas of interest: the mediation of realities; character engagement; emotion and embodied experience; and documentary practice. This framework takes into account intratextual and extratextual aspects in relation to documentary production and reception, as well as potential social impacts.

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Evdokia Prassa

This article examines the quotations of Elizabeth I’s iconic portraiture as Virgin Queen in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and their effect on our a posteriori conceptualization of the depicted body of the female sovereign. Using Mieke Bal’s concept of preposterous history, I argue that Kapur’s transposition of Virgin Queen iconography onto celluloid results in a “(complex) text” that “is both a material object and an effect” (1999: 14). Bal acknowledges that the complexity that lies in the material results of the artistic quotation is not necessarily subversive, as it is dependent on the quoting artist’s ideological premise. Indeed, Kapur’s intermedial quotation of Elizabethan portraiture imbues the highly complex body of the female ruler with contemporary heteronormative notions of female sexuality, thereby reducing it to an object for the male gaze.

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Putting the Culture into Bioculturalism

A Naturalized Aesthetics and the Challenge of Modernism

Dominic Topp

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In Chapter 6 of Film, Art, and the Third Culture, Murray Smith argues for a biocultural account of the emotions, which treats them as an interaction between universal and cultural dimensions. He goes on to test this approach in relation to the representation of emotions in films by considering an example from the tradition of modernist filmmaking. This article suggests that, while Smith’s case is broadly convincing, there are several ways in which it could be presented more forcefully. In particular, his discussion of the challenge of modernism to a biocultural account could be strengthened by emphasizing rather than downplaying the role that various types of cultural knowledge play in our interaction with modernist works.

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Paisley Livingston

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These brief comments raise some questions about Murray Smith’s remarks, in his new volume Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film, on the nature of aesthetic experience. My questions concern how we might best draw a viable distinction between aesthetic and non-aesthetic experiences and focus in particular on possible links between self-awareness and aesthetic experiences. In sum, I agree with Smith in holding that we should not give up on the notion of aesthetic experience, even though aestheticians continue to disagree regarding even the most basic questions pertaining to its nature.

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Josh Morrison, Sylvie Bissonnette, Karen J. Renner, and Walter S. Temple

Kate Mondloch, A Capsule Aesthetic: Feminist Materialisms in New Media Art (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018), 151 pp. ISBN: 9781517900496 (paperback, $27) Alberto Brodesco and Federico Giordano, editors, Body Images in the Post-Cinematic Scenario: The Digitization of Bodies (Milan: Mimesis International, 2017). 195 pp., ISBN: 9788869771095 (paperback, $27.50) Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper, editors, What’s Eating You? Food and Horror on Screen (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017). 370pp., ISBN: 9781501322389 (hardback, $105); ISBN: 9781501343964 (paperback, $27.96); ISBN: 9781501322419 (ebook, $19.77) Kaya Davies Hayon, Sensuous Cinema: The Body in Contemporary Maghrebi Cinema (New York: Bloomsbury, 2018). 181pp., ISBN: 9781501335983 (hardback, $107.99)

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Katherine Thomson-Jones

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This article offers a critical discussion of Murray Smith’s proposals regarding the role of science in film theory and the philosophy of art more broadly. I would like to examine the precise role given by Film, Art, and the Third Culture to scientific evidence in understanding film engagement. There are points in the book where scientific evidence is used to considerable theoretical or philosophical advantage. But there are other points where the role of scientific evidence is unclear or where an opportunity is missed for its full deployment in theorizing.

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Brian Bergen-Aurand

Screen Bodies 3.2 engages with a wide variety of topics—fat studies, contemporary queer cinema, (pre)posterity, puzzle films, grief and truth in filmmaking, feminist materialism, digitized bodies, food and horror, and Maghrebi cinema. As well, the selection of articles in this issue represents studies of several media—tv programs, films, publicity stills, and photographs—from a number of locations around the globe—North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. What holds this general issue together, though, is a concern over expectation, assumption, and supposition: what we suppose screens and bodies do and what we suppose they do not do. As usual, with this journal, the focus of this consideration is doublehanded: screen as projection and screen as prohibition. The articles below explore the duality of screens and our responses to them. They engage screening expectation as showing, exposing, divulging, and, at the same time, as testing, partitioning, and withholding. To screen expectation is to reveal and conceal it, and, as these articles argue—each in their own way—this process is what we all engage in when we engage with screening.

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Screening the Slob

Neoliberal Failure, Fatness, and Disability in “King-Size Homer”

Mackenzie Edwards

This article explores the archetype of the slob, narrowing in on its depiction in the episode “King-Size Homer” from The Simpsons (1989–), the long-running satirical animated series created by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Sam Simon. More than simply analyzing what constitutes the slob, this article focuses on how the slob operates. Attention is paid to the enmeshing of fatness and disability. The undercurrent of neoliberal ideology that runs through the episode is made apparent. The article works intersectionally to understand the slob as being someone who is abject in a multitude of ways. Finally, it considers the topic of disidentification and the possibilities that it opens up for a better analysis and understanding of the episode. And throughout the article, the key themes of failure and the pursuit of failure are explored.

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Francesco Sticchi

In this article, I analyze Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (Ah-gassi, 2016) by addressing its puzzle narrative and complex interactive dynamics as embodied and affective categories. In particular, I employ Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope together with Giuliana Bruno’s work on media theory and Steffen Hven’s notion of the embodied fabula to show how the film, in all its aesthetic complexity, enacts a creative and transformative experience based on the continuous subversion of the power dynamics I describe. Furthermore, I demonstrate how this semantic and experiential reconstruction couples viewers’ alignment with the two main characters in their rebellion against patriarchal power and obsessive male fantasies. Ultimately, then, in this article I aim to connect the experiential and affective engagement of the film with a critical reading of power dynamics as ecologically situated structures to be challenged and revolutionized through a creative process of becoming.

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Brendan Rooney, Hanna Kubicka, Carl Plantinga, James Kendrick, and Johannes Riis