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Laura T. Di Summa

Abstract

This article investigates the relationship between philosophical accounts of criticism, largely within the analytic tradition, and the practice of criticism. Specifically, I am interested in the performative, subjective, and often idiosyncratic nature of such a practice and in the advantages it can deliver in the understanding of works of mass art, in the inquiry over the nature of aesthetic judgments, and in initiating aesthetic appreciation. Promoting such a connection is also, in turn, a way of at least partially bridging the divide between analytic approaches and the kind of work more typically conducted by scholars in film studies.

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“Banal Apocalypse”

An Interview with Author Ta-wei Chi on the New Translation of The Membranes

Jane Chi Hyun Park and Ta-wei Chi

This interview is based on a series of email exchanges in November 2019 between Taiwanese writer and scholar Ta-wei Chi and Korean American scholar Jane Chi Hyun Park about Chi’s queer speculative novella, The Membranes. The first section provides a summary of the novella, which was recently translated into English by Ari Heinrich. The second section paints a picture in broad brush strokes of the contexts in which Chi wrote The Membranes — taking into consideration key cross-cultural influences and critical reception in Taiwan in the 1990s. It also examines the cultural and political relevance of Chi’s creative predictions about the future within the present historical moment. Finally, it explores afterlives for the novella in the form of sequels and possible cinematic adaptations.

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Brenda Austin-Smith, Matthew Cipa, and Temenuga Trifonova

Andrew Klevan, Aesthetic Evaluation and Film (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018), 256 pp, $22.95 (paperback). ISBN: 978-1784991258.

Mario Slugan, Noël Carroll and Film: A Philosophy of Art and Popular Culture (New York: Bloomsbury Academic), xi +218 pp., $103.50 (hardback), ISBN: 978-1-78831-229-5.

Wheatley, Catherine, Stanley Cavell and Film: Scepticism and Self-Reliance at the Cinema. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019, vi +307 pp., $118 (hardback), ISBN: 9781350113220.

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Filippo Contesi

Abstract

Noël Carroll's influence on the contemporary debate on the horror genre is hard to overestimate. His work on the topic is often celebrated as one of the best instances of interdisciplinary dialogue between film studies and philosophy of art. It has provided the foundations for the contemporary study of horror in art. Yet, for all the critical attention that his views on horror have attracted over the years, little scrutiny has been given to the nature itself of the emotion of horror in the genre. This article offers a critical understanding of the nature of the emotion of horror for Carroll, with a view to informing future investigations into the nature of horror in film (and beyond).

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Melenia Arouh

Abstract

The appreciation of form is a common preoccupation in aesthetic analyses of films. The concept of form, however, has traditionally troubled philosophers of art, and although its meaning and significance have been debated throughout history, a common understanding is not always easy to discern. This article reviews certain ambiguities regarding “form” in film aesthetics through an examination of the uses of the word, especially in relation to content, medium, and style. Through this discussion, both the significance of the word is explained, but also the type of analysis it allows for.

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Andrew J. Ball

I am pleased to begin the final issue of the year with a very special announcement. Screen Bodies is modifying its editorial direction and the kind of work it will feature. Many of our readers will already have a sense of these changes, made evident by the new Aims and Scope section we made available online earlier this summer, and by the journal’s new subtitle, The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology. As these indicate, the foundational commitments of the journal remain unchanged; however, moving forward will we intensify our focus on new media art, technology studies, and the interface of the sciences and the humanities. We will continue to examine the cultural, aesthetic, ethical, and political dimensions of emerging technologies, but with a renewed attention to such areas as intermediality, human–machine interface, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, generative art, smart environments, immersive and interactive installations, machine learning, biotechnology, computer science, digital culture, and digital humanities. The journal will continue to prioritize matters of the body and screen media, both in terms of representation and engagement, but will emphasize research that critically reexamines those very concepts, as, for example, in the case of object-oriented feminism’s nonanthropocentric approach, which asks us to rethink what we mean by bodies and embodiment.

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Introduction

Toward a Queer Sinofuturism

Ari Heinrich, Howard Chiang, and Ta-wei Chi

This special issue on “Queer Sinofuturisms” aims to explore how artists and writers working across various media in Sinophone contexts use science to envision — and indeed to fabulate — non-normative gender and erotic expressions in relation to the corporeal future of humanity. By investigating visions of the future that incorporate queerness and creative applications of computer and biotechnology, “Queer Sinofuturisms” aims to counter pervasive techno-Orientalist discourses, such as those discourses in the Blade Runner movies (Ridley Scott, 1982; and Denis Villeneuve, 2017) that frame “Asian” futures as strictly dystopian—and heteronormative by default. What happens, this issue of Screen Bodies asks, if we simultaneously destabilize techno-Orientalist narratives of the future while queering assumptions about the heteronormativity so often inscribed upon that future in mainstream iterations and embodiments? What kinds of fabulous fabulations might emerge?

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Introduction

Film Studies and Analytic Aesthetics in Dialogue

Mario Slugan and Enrico Terrone

Since the 1970s with Stanley Cavell's work, and later with contributions such as those by Noël Carroll, George Wilson, Gregory Currie, and Berys Gaut, film has become a respectable object of philosophizing among Anglo-Saxon philosophers. Still, when it comes to the relationship between film and philosophy, the focus is mostly on how philosophy can help better understand film with little or nothing on how film studies can contribute to philosophical aesthetics. This special issue is aimed at encouraging a more balanced interaction between analytic aesthetics and film studies.

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Looking for Something to Signify

Something to Signify Gender Performance and Cuban Masculinity in Viva

David Yagüe González

The behaviors and actions that an individual carries out in their daily life and how they are translated by their society overdetermine the gender one might have—or not—according to social norms. However, do the postulates enounced by feminist and queer Western thinkers still maintain their validity when the context changes? Can the performances of gender carry out their validity when the landscape is other than the one in Europe or the United States? And how can the context of drag complicate these matters? These are the questions that this article will try to answer by analyzing the 2015 movie Viva by Irish director Paddy Breathnach.

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Mirror Neurons and Film Studies

A Cautionary Tale from a Serious Pessimist

Malcolm Turvey

Abstract

This article surveys some of the major criticisms of mirror neuron explanations of human behavior within neuroscience and philosophy of mind. It then shows how these criticisms pertain to the recent application of mirror neuron research to account for some of our responses to movies, particularly our empathic response to film characters and our putative simulation of anthropomorphic camera movements. It focuses especially on the “egocentric” conception of the film viewer that mirror neuron research appears to license. In doing so, it develops a position called “serious pessimism” about the potential contribution of neuroscience to the study of film and art by building upon the “moderate pessimism” recently proposed by philosopher David Davies. It also offers some methodological recommendations for how film scholars should engage with the sciences.