Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon through Critical Lenses

Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon through Critical Lenses

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Widely recognized in his character of the Tramp, Charlie Chaplin transcended the role of actor to become screenwriter, director, composer, producer, and finally studio head. The subject of numerous biographical studies, Chaplin has been examined as both myth and man, but these treatments fail to adequately address the often-overlooked complexity of his filmmaking.

Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon through Critical Lenses features essays that examine the actor and director through various theoretical perspectives—including Marxism, feminism, gender studies, deconstruction, psychoanalytic criticism, new historicism, performance studies, and cultural criticism. Complementing this range of intellectual inquiry is the wide reach of films discussed, from The Circus (1928), The Gold Rush (1925), and City Lights (1931) to Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), and Limelight (1952). Shorter films, such as “The Pawnshop” (1916), “The Rink” (1916), and “A Dog’s Life” (1918) are also examined.

These essays analyze the tensions between the carefully constructed worlds of Chaplin’s films and their cultural contexts. The varied approaches and range of materials in this volume not only comprehensively assess the screen icon but also foster a conversation that exemplifies the best of intellectual exchange. Refocusing Chaplin provides a unique view into the work of one of cinema’s most important and influential artists.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810892262
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 10/03/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 250
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Lawrence Howe is professor of English and Film Studies at Roosevelt University. He is the author of Mark Twain and the Novel: The Double-Cross of Authority (2009).

James E. Caron is professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. He is the coeditor of Sut Lovingood's Nat'ral Born Yarnspinner: Essays on George Washington Harris (1996) and author of Mark Twain, Unsanctified Newspaper Reporter (2008).

Benjamin Click is Chair of the English Department at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Director of the Twain Lecture Series on American Humor Culture.

Table of Contents

Preface: Why Refocus Chaplin?
Lawrence Howe, James E. Caron, and Benjamin Click


Introduction: The Persisting Appeal of Chaplin and Charlie
Charles Maland

Chapter 1: Chaplin's "Charlie" as Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenological Everyman or, How Bodily Intelligence Manifests the Personae, Styles, and Fable of Slapstick
James E. Caron

Chapter 2: Chaplin and the Static Image: A Barthesian Analysis of the Visual in My Trip Abroad and "A Comedian Sees the World"
Lisa Stein Haven

Chapter 3: A Heart of Gold: Charlie and the Dance Hall Girls
Cynthia J. Miller

Chapter 4: American Masculinity and The Gendered Humor of Chaplin's Little Tramp
Lawrence Howe

Chapter 5: In the Shadow of Machines: Modern Times and the Iconography of Technology
A. Bowdoin Van Riper

Chapter 6: Deconstruction and the Tramp: Marxism, Capitalism, and the Trace
Randall Gann

Chapter 7: Chaplin's Presence
Rachel Joseph

Chapter 8: The Paradox of the "Dictactor": Mimesis, Logic of Paradox, and the Reinstatement of Catharsis in The Great Dictator, Monsieur Verdoux, and Limelight
Marco Grosoli

Chapter 9: Charles Chaplin Sings a Silent Requiem: Chaplin's Films from 1928-1952 as Cinematic Statement on the Transition from Silent Cinema to the Talkies
Aner Preminger

Chapter 10: Chaplin's Sound Statement on Silence: The Great Dictator as Rhetorical Encomium
Benjamin Click



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