Doubting Vision: Film and the Revelationist Tradition

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The film theories of Jean Epstein, Dziga Vertov, Bela Balazs, and Siegfried Kracauer have long been studied separately from each other. In Doubting Vision, film scholar Malcolm Turvey argues that their work constitutes a distinct, hitherto neglected tradition, which he calls revelationism, and which differs in important ways from modernism and realism. For these four theorists and filmmakers, the cinema is an art of mass enlightenment because it escapes the limits of human sight and reveals the true nature of reality. Turvey provides a detailed exegesis of this tradition, pointing to its sources in Romanticism, the philosophy of Henri Bergson, modern science, and other intellectual currents. He also shows how profoundly it has influenced contemporary film theory by examining the work of psychoanalytical-semiotic theorists of the 1970s, Stanley Cavell, the modern-day followers of Kracauer and Walter Benjamin, and Gilles Deleuze.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Classical film theory represents a rich body of work that is generally overlooked nowadays by contemporary scholars of cinema. In Doubting Vision, Malcolm Turvey demonstrates that this is a mistake. He identifies a hitherto ill-recognized strand of the tradition—the revelationist tradition—and he shows astutely how critical engagement with it has great significance for debates in contemporary film theory."-Noël Carroll, Temple University

"In this philosophically acute and elegantly concise book, Turvey proves himself a bold and highly original interlocutor of the tradition of classical film theory. Anyone interested in the cognitive value of cinema, modernist aesthetics, and visual culture will find his study indispensable, and long overdue."—Edward Dimendberg, author of Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity

"In this profoundly original book Turvey anatomizes with acuity and precision a third revelationist tradition of film theory alongside the familiar creationist and realist traditions and traces its persistence in contemporary writers such as Cavell and Deleuze. Further, he demonstrates how the roots of this tradition lie in the denigration of vision within modernism, a denigration that is based upon a conceptual confusion about the nature of seeing. This Turvey systematically extirpates with the tools of ordinary language philosophy. Written with remarkable lucidity and panache, Doubting Vision is an intellectual tour de force that is required reading for all film scholars and anyone who is interested in the history of modernism."—Richard Allen, New York University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195320978
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/31/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Malcolm Turvey teaches film studies at Sarah Lawrence College and is editor of the journal October.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3

1 The Revelationist Tradition: Exegesis 21

2 The Revelationist Tradition: Critique 49

3 Revelationism and Contemporary Film Theory 79

4 The Lure of Visual Skepticism 99

Notes 131

Index 145

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