Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectator's Experience / Edition 1

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Overview

Everyone knows the thrill of being transported by a film, but what is it that makes movie watching such a compelling emotional experience? In Moving Viewers, Carl Plantinga deftly explores this fascinating question and the implications of its answer for aesthetics, the psychology of spectatorship, and the place of movies in culture. Through an in-depth discussion of mainstream Hollywood films, Plantinga investigates what he terms "the paradox of negative emotion" and the function of mainstream narratives as ritualistic fantasies. He describes the sensual nature of the movies-their direct appeal to the human body through sight, sound, and the human propensity for mimicry-and shows how film emotions are often elicited for rhetorical purposes. He moves away from a psychoanalytic explanation and makes powerful use of cognitive science and philosophical aesthetics to demonstrate why cinema may deliver the same emotional charge in Senegal, Thailand, or Peru as it does in Steven Spielberg's America.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520256965
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Carl Plantinga is Professor of Film Studies at Calvin College. He is the author of Rhetoric and Representation in Non-Fiction Film and the coeditor of Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: Affect and the Movies 1

The Significance of Affect

A Theory of Affect at the Movies

In Defense of Films

Spectators and Roles: A Brief Note on Terminology

1 Pleasures, Desires, Fantasies 18

Movie Pleasures

Cognitive Play

Visceral Experience

Sympathy, Antipathy, and Parasocial Engagement

Narrative Scenarios and Emotional Satisfactions

Reflexive and Social Pleasures

The Multiple Pleasures of the Spector

Movie Desire

Movies as Fantasies

Movies and Dreams

2 Movies and Emotions 48

Automaticity and the Psychological Unconscious

What Is Emotion?

A Cognitive-Perceptual Approach

Basic Concepts and Terms

Emotions inside and outside the Movie Theater

The Paradox of Fiction

Play and the Regulation of Emotion

Kinds of Emotions

Direct, Sympathetic/Antipathetic, Artifact, and Meta-emotions

Memory Traces and Associations

Summary: Emotions at the Movies

3 Stories and Sympathies 78

Affective Prefocusing

Paradigm Scenarios

Primary Emotions and the Movies

Hollywood and the New Hollywood

Narrative and Character

Classical Narrative Structure and Emotion

Character Engagement

Character Goals and Engagement

The Structure of Engagement

Character Engagement and Spectator Difference

What Character Engagement Is: A Summary

4 The Sensual Medium 112

Seeing and Hearing Movies

Film and the Body

Direct Affect

Representing Emotional Experience

Affective Mimicry

Mimicry and the Face

Mimicry and the Body

Music, Sound, and Affect

Affect and Contemporary Hollywood Style

5 Affective Trajectories and Synesthesia 140

Narrative Focus

Character Goals andNarration

Synesthetic Affect and Fittingness

Narrative Scenarios and Synesthetic Affect

Shame, Guilt, and the Spectator

Shame and Guilt as Meta-emotions

Shame/Guilt Scenarios and Synesthetic Affect

Four Parameters of Affective Trajectories

6 Negative Emotions and Sympathetic Narratives 169

The Affective Rhetoric of Film

The Case of Disgust

Disgust Defined

The Rise of Movie Disgust

The Nature of Movie Disgust

The Rhetoric of Movie Disgust

Polyester and Ironic Disgust

The Rhetoric of Emotion in Film

7 The Rhetoric of Emotion: Disgust and Beyond 198

Conclusion: Moving Viewers 221

Notes 227

Bibliography 253

Index 269

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