People are bad at recognizing liars. Data culled from several psychological experiments demonstrates that even the most well trained individuals – government agents, police officers, and so on – can barely succeed at a 50 percent rate. Lying and deception, however, are fundamental narrative elements in several film genres – particularly the detective film and the female gothic, genres that peaked in popularity in 1940s Hollywood. Considering their real-life lack of proficiency, how do viewers successfully spot deception in such films? Drawing on findings from a handful of experiments, this article brings cognitive psychological concepts to bear on two 1940s films: Out of the Past (1947) and Secret Beyond the Door (1948). The article claims that filmmakers, particularly actors, exaggerate, simplify, and emphasize deception cues to selectively achieve narrative clarification or revelation. This process reveals not only how viewers recognize deception, but how actors stylize real-life behavior in service of narrative and aesthetic priorities.
J. Brandon Colvin
Convergences and Divergences of the Gothic Literary Heroine
What brand of heroine can be found in the Twilight series? What discernible characteristics of a heroine can be found in gothic fiction and do these characteristics contribute to a social definition of girlhood/womanhood? In an analysis of the Twilight series' protagonist as a gothic heroine in contrast to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, I claim that the author, Stephenie Meyer, constructs a particular category of contemporary gothic heroine. Drawing on the statement made by the novel's leading male character, Edward, to Bella that she is his “brand of heroin,“ this article plays with the idea that Meyer merged elements of the bildungsroman and the Female Gothic to create her brand. This brand of heroine fulfills the three distinct categories of girlhood/womanhood that characterize both the Gothic novel and the bildungsroman: a dependent stage, a caretaker stage, and a wife stage.