Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing Film / Edition 1

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Overview


The essays in this volume represent some of the best new thinking about the crucial relations between visual representation in film and human subjectivity. No amount of empirical research into the sociology of actual audiences will displace the desire to speculate about the effects of visual culture, and especially moving images, on viewing subjects. These notions of spectatorship, however hypothetical, become extremely compelling metaphors for the workings of vision within the institution of cinema. Viewing Positions examines the tradition of a centered, unitary, distanced, and objectifying spectator's gaze; investigates the period when film spectatorship as an idea began; and analyses gender- and sexuality-based challenges to the homogeneous classical theory of spectatorship. It makes available critical understandings of spectatorship that have, until now, largely eluded cinema studies.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This collection of essays explores what editor Williams calls "gaze theory," the study of the nature and identity of the hypothetical viewer whose presence is assumed, sometimes unconsciously, by filmmakers. Going beyond the widely accepted assertion that this postulated viewer is typically male, the writers here discuss aspects of this phenomenon in a variety of genres, from the earliest films to the present day and even in the prefilm days of live entertainments in Paris. Two essays focus specifically on the participatory nature of horror films. The level of discussion here will restrict readership to specialists or serious students in the field, and those unsympathetic to structuralist ideas will not be impressed. Still, larger academic film collections should consider this work, though those with strong existing collections may already own much of this material since several essays have been previously published.David C. Tucker, DeKalb Cty. P.L., Decatur, Ga.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813521336
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1994
  • Series: Rutgers Depth of Field Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 8.95 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Modernizing Vision 23
Phenomenology and the Film Experience 36
Cinema and the Postmodern Condition 59
Cinematic Spectatorship before the Apparatus: The Public Taste for Reality in Fin-de-Siecle Paris 87
An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous Spectator 114
Early Cinema, Late Cinema: Transformations of the Public Sphere 134
Pardoxes of Spectatorship 155
The Eye of Horror 184
Spectatorship as Drag: The Act of Viewing and Classic Horror Cinema 231
Annotated Bibliography 271
Contributors 279
Index 281
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