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The Part-Time Cognitivist: A View from Film Studies

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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A Structure of Antipathy

Constructing the Villain in Narrative Film

Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen

Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates, 2001–2011)—that provoke their audiences’ moral condemnation. What are the psychological underpinnings of this response, and by what means do the villains provoke it? Cognitive film theory has not yet

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Racialized Disgust and Embodied Cognition in Film

Dan Flory

responses. From the point of view of current cognitive film theory, the problem with racialized disgust responses is that in spite of being critically important to the history of film—if not also its present—they nonetheless have been all but ignored. They

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Twofoldness in Moving Images

The Philosophy and Neuroscience of Filmic Experience

Joerg Fingerhut

2019 ). I will re-engage in a recent debate regarding their interpretation ( Fingerhut 2018a ; M. Smith 2018 ). My aim is to indicate how a new cognitive film theory and naturalized aesthetics of film could take shape if it were to engage more

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A Pragmatic Framework for the Cognitive Study of Documentary

Catalin Brylla and Mette Kramer

analysis of fiction film over that of documentary, a tendency that is mainly attributable to four factors. First, cognitive film theory developed in the 1990s as (arguably) a theoretical alternative to the influential Marxist, psychoanalytic, semiotic and

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Film as the Engine for Learning

A Model to Assess Film's Interest Raising Potential

Winnifred Wijnker, Ed S. Tan, Arthur Bakker, Tamara A. J. M. van Gog, and Paul H. M. Drijvers

emotion theory in conceptualizing student interest in learning contexts, cognitive film theory follows emotion theory in conceptualizing viewer interest as an appraisal-driven emotion. Film theory has attempted to account for film viewers’ interest using

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Constructing Film Emotions

The Theory of Constructed Emotion as a Biocultural Framework for Cognitive Film Theory

Timothy Justus

argue that cognitive film theory would do well to consider another view that can more readily accommodate questions of cultural and historical specificity. In what follows, I give an overview of basic emotions theory, or the classical view of emotion

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Folk Psychology for Film Critics and Scholars

Carl Plantinga

Film scholars, critics, filmmakers, and audiences all routinely employ intuitive, untutored "folk psychology" in viewing, interpreting, critiquing, and making films. Yet this folk psychology receives little attention in film scholarship. This article argues that film scholars ought to pay far more attention to the nature and uses of folk psychology. Turning to critical work on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the article demonstrates the diverse and sometimes surprising ways that folk psychology is used in criticism. From an evolutionary perspective, the article defends the critic's and audience's interests in characters as persons. It also defends folk psychology against some of its most vocal detractors, and provides some guidance into how cognitive film theorists might employ folk psychology, arguing that such employment must supplement and correct folk psychology with scientific psychology and philosophical analysis. Finally, the article argues that the application of folk psychology to films is a talent, a skill, and a sensitivity rather than a science.

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Soundtrack in Mind

Edward Branigan

Contemporary film theory is noted for its sturm und drang, though in the case of the soundtrack, incompatible attitudes and methods are found mostly below the surface where theoretical presuppositions are ruled by unpredictable melodic contours and accents. This article provides a comprehensive overview of philosophical issues concerning audition. It aims to orient a diverse array of sound theories in relation to a set of core issues involving perceptual processing, language, and mind. The article sounds out various cognitive frameworks, where each type of frame projects a favored description and explanation of sonic phenomena. It argues that what is heard in a sound depends on how one listens, and with what purpose.

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What Difference Does It Make?: Science, Sentiment, and Film

Murray Smith

Skepticism, even hostility, about the relevance of the natural sciences to the humanities has been the orthodoxy for several decades—a position finding support from otherwise disparate traditions and philosophies, including that of the late Wittgenstein, and post-structuralism. What, then, of the ambitions of those counter-movements within the humanities, like cognitive film theory, which have actively turned to scientific knowledge as a resource in exploring certain aspects of the arts and culture? This article examines emotional expression and experience in relation to film, testing the hypothesis that different theories of emotion, and in particular scientifically grounded theories of emotion, will yield different implications about both emotional expression in film, and our emotional response to films. To concretize the argument, this article offers an analysis of a sequence from Heimat 3, contextualized by a consideration of various factors that make the series as a whole a particularly illuminating case study.