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Robert Blanchet and Margrethe Bruun Vaage

As the frequent use of metaphors like friendship or relationship in academic and colloquial discourse on serial television suggests, long-term narratives seem to add something to the spectator's engagement with fictional characters that is not fully captured by terms such as empathy and sympathy. Drawing on philosophical accounts of friendship and psychological theories on the formation of close relationships, this article clarifies in what respect the friendship metaphor is warranted. The article proposes several hypotheses that will enhance cognitive theories of character engagement. Spectators tend to like what they have been exposed to more, and the feeling of familiarity is pleasurable. Familiar characters are powerful tools to get the spectator hooked. Furthermore, by generating an impression of a shared history, television series activate mental mechanisms similar to those activated by friendship in real life. These factors, and several others, create a bond with characters in television series that tends to be described in everyday language as a sort of friendship.

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Julian Hanich

This article explores the question of what we are actually afraid of when we are scared at the movies. It is usually claimed that our fear derives from our engagement with characters and our participation through thought, simulation, or make-believe in fearful situations of the filmic world. These standard accounts provide part of the explanation why we are afraid—this article complements them by showing that we often literally fear for ourselves as well. Concentrating on an anticipatory subspecies of cinematic fear dubbed “dread,” the article argues that we often fear a negative affective outcome, namely our own fearful experience of shock and/or horror that usually ends scenes of dread. By looking at viewers' action tendencies and actions proper activated in dreadful moments, the article suggests that we appraise scenes of dread as potentially harmful to our current (and even future) psychological well-being. Dread thus turns out to be a specific kind of metaemotion.

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Carl Plantinga

and Amazon Prime. And surely she is correct that long-form television and streaming dramas are one of the most remarkable developments in screen storytelling of the past ten years, and that they encourage a different kind of character engagement than

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Catalin Brylla and Mette Kramer

consisting of four areas of interest: the mediation of realities; character engagement; emotion and embodied experience; and documentary practice. The framework takes into account the intratextual and extratextual context of documentary production and

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Carl Plantinga

estrangement. The third part demonstrates some of the contours of an ethics of engagement, showing how it might operate in relation to character engagement, narrative closure, and paradigm scenarios such as the revenge scenario. Ethics would be far less

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Ethical Engagement with Movies

Response to Carl Plantinga's Screen Stories

Cynthia Freeland

.” Therein, he addresses the “formal parameters of screen storytelling” (251): in succession, character engagement (Chapter 10), endings (Chapter 11), and what he calls “narrative paradigm scenarios” (Chapter 12). I find some tension in this final section

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William P. Seeley

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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Ted Nannicelli

documentaries with other salient strands of research, building a framework that permits a number of different research foci (e.g., the mediation of reality, character engagement, viewer emotions and embodied experience, and documentary practice) to be studied

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“Is He Talking to Me?”

How Breaking the Fourth Wall Influences Enjoyment

Daniela M. Schlütz, Daniel Possler, and Lucas Golombek

involvement with the character addressing the audience ( Auter 1992 ). More recently, Tilo Hartmann and Charlotte Goldhoorn (2011) showed that the direct address of a TV performer (in a nonnarrative format) intensified character engagement. Jonathan Cohen

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Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen

intersects with Murray Smith's notion of alignment as an aspect of character engagement, 10 and with Carl Plantinga's notion of sympathetic and distanced modes of narration. 11 Yet I want the concept of psychological distance to do some work that is beyond