The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Charles Olson

The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Charles Olson

by R. Bruce Elder


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Since the late 1950s Stan Brakhage has been in the forefront of independent filmmaking. His body of work — some seventy hours — is one of the largest of any filmmaker in the history of cinema, and one of the most diverse. Probably the most widely quoted experimental filmmaker in history, his films typify the independent cinema.

Until now, despite well-deserved acclaim, there has been no comprehensive study of Brakhage’s oeuvre. The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition fills this void. R. Bruce Elder delineates the aesthetic parallels between Brakhage’s films and a broad spectrum of American art from the 1920s through the 1960s.

This book is certain to stir the passions of those interested in artistic critique and interpretation in its broadest terms.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780889202757
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Publication date: 01/07/1999
Pages: 583
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

R. Bruce Elder is an award-winning filmmaker and teaches media at Ryerson University. His book Harmony & Dissent (WLU Press, 2008) received the prestigious Robert Motherwell Book Prize and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book. Rudolf Kuenzli described DADA, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect (WLU Press, 2013) as “that rare book that casts the early twentieth-century avant-garde in a very new light.”

Table of Contents

Table of Contents for
The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Charles Olson by R. Bruce Elder

With Gratitude



From the Givenness of Nature to the Encumbered Modern Body

The Signifying Body

The Two Bodies in the Philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer: The Body Observed Externally and the Body Experienced from Within

The Modern Body’s Unbearable Burden of Being

The Harmony of Spirit and Body

The Primacy of the Subject Body and the Recessiveness of the Subject Body

Chapter 1. Four for America: Williams, Pound, Stein, Brakhage

Styles of English Metre

Meaning and Personal Being: Pound and Brakhage

The Seachange: Or, How Pound Came “To Break the Pentameter”

Bergson, Hulme, Pound, and Brakhage on the Body and Energy

Experience as Energy: A Pattern for Thinking

First-Person Singular: Bergson, Hulme, and Brakhage on the Primacy of Individuality

Between Self and World: The Image in Hulme, Williams, Brakhage

Writing = Composing Sound’s Energies, Filmmaking = Composing Light’s Energies: Gertrude Stein and Stan Brakhage’s Conceptions of Their Media

Digressive Interpolation: The Persistence of Emerson’s Vision in Stein’s Writing and Brakhage’s Filmmaking

Out of Stein: A Theory of Meaning for Stan Brakhage’s Films

The Paradox of a Perlocutionary Semantics: Brakhage and Stein on Artistic Meaning

The Romanticism of Brakhage’s Conception of Meaning

Chapter 2. The Conception of the Body in Open Form Poetics and Its Influence on Stan Brakhage’s Filmmaking

H. Lawrence and the Poetics of Energy

Two Crucial Influences on Embodied Poetics: A.N. Whitehead and Maurice Merleau-Ponty

A.N. Whitehead’s Project: Reconciling Permanence and Flux

Olson’s Energetics of Embodied Existence

Michael McClure’s Poetics: The Body Is an Organism. The Universe Is an Organism. A Poem Embodies an Aspect of the Universe’s Evolving Form

Allen Ginsberg: The Breath, the Voice, and the Poem

Action Painting as Performance



Selected Bibliography

Stan Brakhage Filmography


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