Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies / Edition 1

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With Post-Theory, David Bordwell and Noël Carroll challenge the prevailing practices of film scholarship. Since the 1970s, film scholars have been searching for a unified theory that will explain all sorts of films, their production, and their reception; the field has been dominated by structuralist Marxism, varieties of cultural theory, and the psychoanalytic ideas of Freud and Lacan. Bordwell and Carroll ask, why not employ many theories tailored to specific goals, rather than searching for a unified theory?
    Post-Theory offers fresh directions for understanding film, presenting new essays by twenty-seven scholars on topics as diverse as film scores, audience response, and the national film industries of Russia, Scandinavia, the U.S., and Japan. They use historical, philosophical, psychological, and feminist methods to tackle such basic issues as: What goes on when viewers perceive a film? How do filmmakers exploit conventions? How do movies create illusions?  How does a film arouse emotion? Bordwell and Carroll have given space not only to distinguished film scholars but to non-film specialists as well, ensuring a wide variety of opinions and ideas on virtually every topic on the current agenda of film studies. Full of stimulating essays published here for the first time, Post-Theory promises to redefine the study of cinema.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Post-Theory is absolutely timely as a call to reform the field of film studies. Bordwell and Carroll—two of the most prominent names in the field—advocate pluralism, open mindedness, film theories over film Theory, and the need for an ongoing critical dialogue.  There is no other book like it.”—Andrew Horton, author of Writing the Character-Centered Screenplay
Contributors discuss the end of Theory, defined as the aggregate of doctrines derived from Lacanian psychoanalysism, Structuralist semiotics, and Post-Structuralist literary theory which came into prominence in Anglo-American film studies during the 1970s, and what can and should come after, taking an approach based on cognitivism. They consider issues such as the legacy of Brechtianism; feminist frameworks for horror films; and reconstructing Japanese film. Paper edition (unseen), $17.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299149444
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Series: Wisconsin Studies in Film Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 582
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

David Bordwell is the Jacques Ledoux Professor of Film Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. His books include Narration in the Fiction Film, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, Making Meaning, The Cinema of Eisenstein, The Classical Hollywood Cinema, and many others. Noël Carroll, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities at Temple University, is the author of Mystifying Movies, The Philosophy of Horror, and Philosophical Problems of Classical Film Theory. He has written scores of articles and reviews for such publications as The Village Voice, Art Forum, and The Boston Review and has been a documentary screenwriter for WNET-TV in New York.
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Table of Contents

1 Contemporary Film Studies and the Vicissitudes of Grand Theory 3
2 Prospects for Film Theory: A Personal Assessment 37
3 Psychoanalytic Film Theory and the Problem of the Missing Spectator 71
4 Convention, Construction, and Cinematic Vision 87
5 Is a Cognitive Approach to the Avant-garde Cinema Perverse? 108
6 The Logic and Legacy of Brechtianism 130
7 Characterization and Fictional Truth in the Cinema 149
8 Empathy and (Film) Fiction 175
9 Feminist Frameworks for Horror Films 195
10 Apt Feelings, or Why "Women's Films" Aren't Trivial 219
11 Unheard Melodies? A Critique of Psychoanalytic Theories of Film Music 230
12 Film Music and Narrative Agency 248
13 Nonfiction Film and Postmodernist Skepticism 283
14 Moving Pictures and the Rhetoric of Nonfiction Film: Two Approaches 307
15 Film, Reality, and Illusion 325
16 The Case for an Ecological Metatheory 347
17 Movies in the Mind's Eye 368
18 Notes on Audience Response 388
19 Toward a New Media Economics 407
20 Columbia Pictures: The Making of a Motion Picture Major, 1930-1943 419
21 "A Brief Romantic Interlude": Dick and Jane Go to 3 1/2 Seconds of the Classical Hollywood Cinema 434
22 The Jazz Singer's Reception in the Media and at the Box Office 460
23 Jameson and "Global Aesthetics" 481
24 Reconstructing Japanese Film 501
25 Danish Cinema and the Politics of Recognition 520
26 Whose Apparatus? Problems of Film Exhibition and History 533
Selected Bibliography 553
Index 561
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