Dark Thoughts

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Is horror a fundamentally nihilistic genre? Why are those of us who enjoy horror films so attracted to watching things on screen that in real life we would almost certainly find repellent? Do monster movies have a deleterious moral effect on their viewers? In seeking to answer such questions, as well as a host of related ones, Dark Thoughts reveals that our fascination with horror cinema, and the pleasure we take in it, is in the end simply a natural extension of a philosopher's inclination to wonder. This is a collection of highly engaging and provocative essays by top scholars in the increasingly interrelated fields of Philosophy, Film Studies, and Communication Arts that deal with the epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and genre dynamics of horror cinema past and present. Contributors include Curtis Bowman, Noël Carroll, Elizabeth Cowie, Angela Curran, Cynthia Freeland, Michael Grant, Matt Hills, Deborah Knight, George McKnight, Ken Mogg, Aaron Smuts, Robert C. Solomon, and J.P. Telotte. Over the past several years, one of the hottest topics in the realm of philosophical aesthetics has been cinematic horror. The emotional effects it has on audiences, the mysterious metaphysics of its impossible beings, the controversial ethics of its violent contents-these are just a few of the concerns to have drawn the attention of scholars and students alike. . .not to mention the genre's legions of fans. Since the publication of Noël Carroll's groundbreaking study, The Philosophy of Horror; or, Paradoxes of the Heart (1990), and including most recently Cynthia Freeland's The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror (2000), a plethora of articles have been authored by seemingly normal philosophers about the decidedly abnormal activities of the antagonists of fright flicks.

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Editorial Reviews

This philosophical collection provides an interesting perspective on the film horror genre that would prove beneficial for cinema studies, film history, and film genre courses. Recommended.
Northeast News Gleaner
...a collection of essays on the philosophic underpinnings of films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and An American Werewolf in London...
Video Watchdog
If you look at cinema through a philosophic prism however, and agree Schneider and Shaw's introductory contention that horror cinema is "simply a natural extension of a philosopher's inclination to wonder," then you will find the issues reiase by Carroll and those who follow in his footsteps, enlightening.
This philosophical collection provides an interesting perspective on the film horror genre that would prove beneficial for cinema studies, film history, and film genre courses. Recommended.
Carl Plantinga
The horror film is a fascinating genre from many perspectives, not least of them the philosophical. For those interested in a philosophical approach to horror, read this book! In Dark Thoughts, the editors gather together a remarkable set of essays by philosophers and film scholars, among them well-known names and relative newcomers. Along the way, Dark Thoughts explores the major issues raised by the horror film, and it does so from diverse perspectives. The approaches range from the psychoanalytic to the cognitive, from Nietsche and Heidegger to Carroll and Freeland. This is a welcome and useful addition to the literature on the horror film.
William Irwin
With this important collection in hand, you can stop whistling in the dark and start thinking seriously about scary movies. Why do we voluntarily watch films that shock, frighten, and horrify? Why do we actually like Hannibal Lecter and other monsters and monstrosities? What defines the horror movie as a genre? What are its connections to tragedy? The essays in this book draw insightfully on classic sources including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger to answer these and other terrifying questions. In addition, all the major contemporary theorists in the philosophy of horror are represented, including Noël Carroll, Cynthia Freeland, and Robert Solomon The resulting fusion of classic and contemporary insight is this unique and enlightening volume, Dark Thoughts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810847927
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 11/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Jay Schneider is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at Harvard University and in Cinema Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He has published widely on the horror film and related genres, and is author of the forthcoming Designing Fear: An Aesthetics of Cinematic Horror. Steven is editor of New Hollywood Violence and The Horror and Psychoanalysis: Freud's Worst Nightmares, and co-editor of Understanding Film Genres and Horror International, all forthcoming. For more information, please visit his "website". Daniel Shaw is Professor of Philosophy and Film at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. He is Editor of the journal Film and Philosophy, and secretary-treasurer of its sponsor organization, the Society for the Philosophic Study of the Contemporary Visual Arts. He has published articles in The Journal of Value Inquiry, Kinoeye, and Film/Literature Quarterly. His reviews also appear periodically in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and in Choice magazine.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Acknowledgments Chapter 2 Introduction Part 3 Horror, Tragedy, and Pleasure Chapter 4 The General Theory of Horrific Appeal Chapter 5 The Mastery of Hannibal Lecter Chapter 6 The Livid Nightmare: Trauma, Anxiety, and the Ethical Aesthetics of Horror Chapter 7 Aristotelian Reflections on Horror and Tragedy in An American Werewolf in London and The Sixth Sense Part 8 Horror's Philosopher-Auteurs Chapter 9 Heidegger, the Uncanny, and Jacques Tourneur's Horror Films Chapter 10 Hitchcock Made Only One Horror Film: Matters of Time, Space, Causality, and the Schopenhauerian Will Chapter 11 What You Can't See Can Hurt You: Of Invisible and Hollow Men Part 12 Philosophical (Horror) Investigations Chapter 13 On the Question of the Horror Film Chapter 14 An Event-Based Definition of Art-Horror Chapter 15 Haunting the House From Within: Disbelief Mitigation and Spatial Experience Chapter 16 Murder as Art/ The Art of Murder: Aestheticizing Violence in Modern Cinematic Horror Part 17 Horror and Reality Chapter 18 The Slasher's Blood Lust Chapter 19 American Psycho: Horror, Satire, Aesthetics, and Identification Chapter 20 Real Horror Part 21 Bibliography Chapter 22 Index Chapter 23 About the Contributors

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