Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde / Edition 1

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Overview


Regarded as one of the founders of the postwar American independent cinema, the legendary Maya Deren was a poet, photographer, ethnographer, filmmaker and impresario. Her efforts to promote an independent cinema have inspired filmmakers for over fifty years. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) ranks among the most widely viewed of all avant-garde films. The eleven essays gathered here examine Maya Deren's writings, films, and legacy from a variety of intriguing perspectives. Some address her relative neglect during the rise of feminist film theory; all argue for her enduring significance. The essays cast light on her aesthetics and ethics, her exploration of film form and of other cultures, her role as (woman) artist and as film theorist. Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde also includes one of the most significant reflections on the nature of art and the responsibilities of the filmmaker ever written--Deren's influential but long out-of-print book, An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film, in its entirety.

Among the topics covered in this volume are Deren's ties with the avant-garde of her day and its predecessors; her perspective on vodoun ritual, possession ceremonies, and social harmony; her work in relation to the modern dance tradition and its racial inflections; her thoughts, written in the shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about science, including how form can embody moral principles; the complex issue of the "woman artist" in an avant-garde dominated by men; her famous dispute with Anaïs Nin; and an exploration of issues of identification and desire in her major films.

As the first critical evaluation of the enduring significance of Maya Deren, this book clarifies the filmmaker's theoretical and cinematic achievements and conveys the passionate sense of moral purpose she felt about her art. It is a long-overdue tribute to one of the most important and least written about filmmakers in American cinema, an artist who formulated the terms and conditions of independent cinema that remain with us today.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520227323
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 346
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


Bill Nichols holds the Fanny Knapp Allen Chair of Fine Arts and is Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Rochester where he teaches in the Visual and Cultural Studies doctoral program. He is the author of Blurred Boundaries (1994), Representing Reality (1991), Movies and Methods (California, 1976 and 1985), and Ideology and the Image (1981).
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction, Bill Nichols
A. Deren's Work and the Arts
B. Deren's Writings and Film Theory
C. Deren's Films and Their Form

1. The Historical Lens
Poetics and Savage Thought: About Anagram, Annette Michelson
The Modernist Poetics of Maya Deren, Renata Jackson
Aesthetic Agencies in Flux: Talley Beatty, Maya Deren, and the Modern Dance Tradition in Study in Choreography for Camera, Mark Franko
"The Eye for Magic" Maya and Méliès, Lucy Fischer

2. In the Eyes of Her Contemporaries
The Ethics of Form: Structure and Gender in Maya Deren's Challenge to the Cinema, Maureen Turim
Moving the Dancers' Souls, Ute Holl
Maya Deren's Ethnographic Representation of Ritual and Myth in Haiti, Moira Sullivan

3. The Terms of Her Legend and Legacy
Maya Deren Herself, Catherine M. Soussloff
Maya Deren, Jane Brakhage Wodening
Seeing Double(s): Reading Deren Bisexually, Maria Pramaggiore
Maya Deren and Me, Barbara Hammer

Appendix: An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film
Maya Deren
List of Contributors
Index

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