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David Bordwell

Understanding how spectators interact with films requires some theory of filmic representation. This article reviews three such theories. The first, a communication model, assumes that an artwork constitutes or contains a message passed from a sender to a receiver. The second, a signification model, assumes that the film operates within a system of codes and that the perceiver applies codes to signs in the text in order to arrive at meanings. This conception of film as signification may be found in both classic structuralist and post-structuralist accounts. The third, an empirical-experiential model, assumes that an artwork is designed to create an experience for the spectator. This article argues that the cognitive approach to film studies is founded on the third model of representation. The article also traces the strengths and limits of cognitive film theory and its theory of representation.

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“Mind the Gap”

Between Movies and Mind, Affective Neuroscience, and the Philosophy of Film

Jane Stadler


Murray Smith’s Film, Art, and the Third Culture makes a significant contribution to cognitive film theory and philosophical aesthetics, expanding the conceptual tools of film analysis to include perspectives from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. Smith probes assumptions about how cinema affects spectators by examining aspects of experience and neurophysiological responses that are unavailable to conscious, systematic reflection. This article interrogates Smith’s account of emotion, empathy, and imagination in cinematic representation and film spectatorship, placing his work in dialogue with other recent interventions in the fields of cinema studies and embodied cognition. Smith’s contribution to understanding the role of emotion in screen studies is vital, and when read in conjunction with recent publications by Carl Plantinga and Mark Johnson on ethical engagement and the moral imagination, this new work constitutes a notable advance in film theory.

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Seeing Is Being

Transfer, Transformation, and the Spectatorship of Transgender Mobility in François Ozon’s The New Girlfriend

Julia Dettke

, the film is obviously trying to be more easily accepted by audiences that presumably have severe reservations about a transgender protagonist. A quick glance at the cinematic representation of men dressing as women shows that this comic, mainly playful

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Akkadia Ford

Wagner, Jonathan Williams, Wibke Straube, Joelle Ruby Ryan, and Cael Keegan—all of whom have made significant contributions to developing transinformed, trans activist scholarship on cinematic representation in film and television. Performing Trans

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Educational Film Studies

A Burgeoning Field of Research

Anne Bruch

of the most important specialists of educational cinema in France, she also reveals the ideological foundations of the cinematic representation of labor in the 1920s and 1930s. 25 In addition, Films that Work shows that icons of modernization

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Robert Sinnerbrink and Matthew Cipa

them to cinema. Cinematic representation can be understood as a form of denotation that relates certain features of a film world to definite objects within that world according to shared cultural conventions (rather than via a natural “iconic” link

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Stepping through the Silver Screen

Austro-German Filmmaker, Bestselling Author, and Journalist Colin Ross Discovers Australia

Anne Rees

mores of America itself ( Matthews 2005: 12–142 ). On the one hand, the disappointment that descended upon finding the United States unlike its cinematic representation points to the intoxicating promise of the imagined American “way of life.” The modern

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Seeing Yourself in the Past

The Role of Situational (Dis)continuity and Conceptual Metaphor in the Understanding of Complex Cases of Character Perception

Maarten Coëgnarts, Miklós Kiss, Peter Kravanja, and Steven Willemsen

discussion of complex storytelling in relation to the embodied underpinnings of the cinematic representation of character perception, we hope to have provided one way to analyze the complexity of narrative structures on a more concrete and local level

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Incarnation, Alienation, and Emancipation

A Sartrean Analysis of Filmic Violence

Daniel Sullivan

incarnating. The Wrestler is an unparalleled cinematic representation of Sartre's analysis of the boxing match. Indeed, to an even greater extent than boxing, professional wrestling in the United States epitomizes the process of incarnation, in which

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Making Sense of the Remote Areas

Films and Stories from a Tundra Village

Petia Mankova

in Northern Mobilities .” Mobilities 10 ( 4 ): 511 – 517 . doi:10.1080/17450101.2015.1061262 10.1080/17450101.2015.1061262 Hall , Stuart . 2000 . “ Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation. ” Pp. 704 – 714 in Film and Theory: An