Cult Controversies! New CINE-EXCESS eJournal launches


New SCOPE: Reboots, Zombies, Cannibals, Giallo, Battlestar Galactica

Screencap of a windswept Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan‘s 2005 regeneration of the Batman film franchise. Read about the reboot in William Proctor’s Scope article. And for Film Studies For Free‘s very own, popular Christopher Nolan Studies links list, try here.

Film Studies For Free rushedly points you to some great weekend reading: a new issue of SCOPE is out. Please check out the very worthwhile items linked to directly below. That is all. Thank you.

SCOPE: Issue 22 February 2012


Book Reviews

Film and Television Reviews

Conference Reports

40+ Essays on Film, Moving Image, and Digital Media in the Sarai Readers

Framegrab image of early action heroine “Fearless” Nadia (née Mary Ann Evans) in Miss Frontier Mail (Homi Wadia, 1936). Read Rosie Thomas’s 2007 article on this film.

Today, Film Studies For Free focuses on, and links to, some remarkable film and digital media studies essays commissioned and edited by the Sarai Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.

The Sarai Programme was initiated in 2000 by a group consisting of internationally renowned cinema scholar Ravi S. Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram (both fellows at CSDS) and the members of the Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta), a Delhi based group of media practitioners, documentarists, artists and writers.

Sarai’s mission is to act as a platform for discursive and creative collaboration between theorists, researchers, practitioners and artists actively engaged in reflecting on contemporary urban spaces and cultures in South Asia. Its areas of interests include media research and theory, the urban experience in South Asia: history, environment, culture, architecture and politics, new and established media practices, media history, cinema, contemporary art, digital culture, the history and politics of technology, visual/technological cultures, free and open source software, social usage of software, the politics of information and communication, online communities and web-based practices.

The below collection of articles — painstakingly drawn from the numerous, openly accessible Sarai Readers produced by the collective — reflect the above interests, but have been curated here by FSFF because of their particular, potential relevance to scholars of cinema and related moving image and digital media studies.

    Repulsive Film Studies? New issue of FILM-PHILOSOPHY on Cinematic Disgust

    [Tarja] Laine’s insights on disgust have important implications for thinking about the aesthetic paradox of unpleasure. In her assessment, [Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)] offers a particularly pertinent limit-case in which disgust is not readily convertible into pleasurable cognitive satisfaction. Ultimately, her reading of the film suggests that we may need to re-think theories that construct unpleasure as antithetical to aesthetic experience. In this, she joins Korsmeyer and other thinkers who have recently suggested that we may need to abandon the pleasure-unpleasure binary, in favor of thinking about disgust as ‘modifier of attention, intensifying for a host of reasons some experience that the participant would rather have continue than not’ (Korsmeyer 2011, 118). Indeed, as Laine puts it, it is possible that what we value in cinematic renderings of disgust is precisely the ‘vivid and immediate experience’ that it offers us, ‘regardless of its non-pleasurable, non-rewarding features’. [Tina Kendall in her editor’s ‘Introduction: Tarrying with Disgustfor the Film-Philosophy special issue on Disgust, discussing Tarja Laine‘s brilliant article for that issue, as well as citing Carolyn Korsmeyer’s Savoring Disgust: The Foul and the Fair in Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)]

    Many of you will already have heard about the new issue of Film-Philosophy that came out in late December, but Film Studies For Free is obsessively completist in its mission to bring you news of notable, open access, film studies, hence this, otherwise possibly superfluous, entry.

    Besides, it’s a brilliantly provocative special issue which successfully takes explorations of filmic disgust well beyond the, to date, canonical or entrenched Film Studies approaches to film horror. Despite some of the attractions of these approaches, for those of us marking undergraduate essays on horror cinema and television from time to time, this greater plurality of conceptual pathways into these topics is a Very Good Thing – that is, in FSFF‘s ever so humble view.

    Thanks so much for that, and more, Film-Philosophy!

    Vol 15, No 2 (2011): The Disgust Issue

    Guest Editor: Tina Kendall


    Book Reviews

    • Dina Iordanova, David Martin-Jones and Belén Vidal (2010) Cinema at the Periphery PDF Rowena Santos Aquino
    • Richard Greene and K. Silem Mohammad, eds. (2010) Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy: New Life for the Undead PDF Caroline Walters
    • Joseph Mai (2010) Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne PDF R. D. Crano
    • Boaz Hagin (2010) Death in Classical Hollywood Cinema PDF Richard Lindley Armstrong
    • Peter Lee-Wright (2010) The Documentary Handbook PDF Wes Skolits
    • William Brown, Dina Iordanova and Leshu Torchin (2010) Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe PDF Alison Frank
    • Richard Misek (2010) Chromatic Cinema PDF Robert Barry
    • Alain Badiou (2010) Cinéma PDF Manuel Ramos
    • Annie van den Oever, ed. (2010) Ostrannenie PDF Lara Alexandra Cox
    • David Martin-Jones (2010) Scotland: Global Cinema: Genres, Modes and Identities PDF John Marmysz

    Film,Television and Media Studies articles in STUDIES IN POPULAR CULTURE

    Framegrab of Rooney Mara as ‘final girl‘ Nancy Holbrook in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street (Samuel Bayer, 2010). Read Kyle Christensen’s article on this film’s source text (‘The Final Girl versus Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street: Proposing a Stronger Model of Feminism in Slasher Horror Cinema‘), and also check out Film Studies For Free‘s entry of links to ‘Final Girl’ Studies

    Below, Film Studies For Free links to the entire online contents, to date, of the excellent Open Access journal Studies in Popular Culture: a list of more than 60 great articles on film, television and media studies. 

    The journal of the US Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association in the South, SPC dates back, in its offline, print version, to 1977, making it one of the oldest, continuously published academic journals to treat audiovisual media.  

    SPC has been online since 2006 and is a wonderful example of how an online presence indicates no necessary lowering of the quality bar for a properly peer-reviewed journal. 

    29.1 October 2006 [Go here for an online table of contents)

    30.2 Spring 2008 [Go here to find a PDF of the entire issue]

    31.1 Fall 2008 [Go here to find a pdf of the entire issue]

    31.2 Spring 2009 [Go here to find a pdf of the entire issue]

    32.1 Fall 2009 [Go here to find a PDF of the Entire Issue]

    32.2 Spring 2010 [Go here to find a pdf of the entire issue]

    33.1 Fall 2010 [Go here to find a pdf of the entire issue]

    33.2 Spring 2011 [Go here to find a PDF of the entire issue]

    34.1 Fall 2011 [Go here to find a PDF of the entire issue]

    Halloween Guide to the Philosophy of Film Horror

    love Pictures, Images and Photos
    Animated.gif of an image of Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973), posted online by skyggebarnet

    Father Damien Karras: Why her? Why this girl?
    Father Merrin
    : I think the point is to make us despair. To see ourselves as… animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us.

    Philosophers getting excited about horror films may seem incongruous to the average intellectual reader, and saying that one has a “philosophy of horror” may simply sound pretentious. Maybe it’s the bad critical reputation of most monster movies, a perennially popular genre (especially with teenagers) that has always taken its lumps, both aesthetically and morally. Plato wanted to ban all representations of the monstrous from his ideal Republic, and his successors have condemned such depictions ever since. [We] believe that there is ample reason for philosophers to become interested in horror films, for they raise a number of complex and interrelated questions that lie at the heart of philosophical aesthetics.
         Primary among these is the question of horror-pleasure. Why are those of us who enjoy the genre so attracted to watching things that, in real life, would be repellent to us? Like the more traditional aesthetic issue concerning tragic pleasure, there is something puzzling about enjoying in fiction what is painful in reality. Freudian film scholars Laura Mulvey and Robin Wood offered the first compelling solution to this puzzle, and it has been tough to beat. Wood’s thesis that monsters represent a return of the repressed, gratifying the instinctive drives of the id in a cathartic fashion, had almost no serious rival in critical literature from the mid-1970s until 1990. Elizabeth Cowie [also] offers an elaboration on that long-dominant paradigm in her essay [a version of which is linked to below].
          Serious philosophical discussion of horror theory was triggered by Noël Carroll’s seminal treatise, The Philosophy of Horror; or, Paradoxes of the Heart (1990)[…]. Carroll’s cognitivist approach to solving what he calls “the paradox of horror pleasure” was painstakingly modeled on David Hume’s theory of tragedy. We do not take pleasure in the painful and repugnant monster, according to Carroll, but rather in having our curiosity satisfied about its impossible nature, and whether and how the narrative’s human protagonists will dispatch it successfully. His denial that we take pleasure in the monster itself, along with his requirement that the object of horror must be an impossible being—one not believed capable of existing according to the tenets of contemporary science—have generated a good deal of critical ink. [Steven J. Schneider and Daniel Shaw, ‘Introduction’, Dark Thoughts: Philosophic Reflections on Cinematic Horror (New York: Scarecrow Press, 2003)]

    It struck me that certain genres, such as suspense, mystery, comedy, melodrama, and horror, are actually identified by their relation to certain emotions. As a case study, I went about analyzing horror. I began by looking at what kind of horror we expect from horror fiction. At the time, a leading theory of the emotions was what was called the cognitive theory of the emotions, which tries to identify emotions in terms of their object – that is, the criterion that determines whether or not a state is this or that emotion. For example, in the case of fear, in order to be afraid you have to be afraid of a certain kind of thing, namely something that meets the criterion of harmfulness. I argued that horror was made up of two emotions we are already familiar with, fear and disgust. So I crafted my theory of the nature of horror by saying that horror is defined in terms of its elicitation of fear and disgust. Then I needed to say what the object of those two component emotional states were. For fear, there was a long history of analysis of the formal criterion as the harmful, and I drew on that. For disgust, I hypothesized the criterion was the impure.
         [..] I think that film theory should be closer to the practice of filmmaking and fiction-making in general. There shouldn’t be these two cultures. I think in some ways the theorists have made these two cultures exist by being unconcerned with the problems of construction. The Philosophy of Horror is very concerned with the problems of construction. It’s a philosophy of horror, but in the same way that Aristotle’s Poetics is a philosophy of tragedy. Aristotle wrote a philosophy of tragedy, but he called it a poetics, where poetics is a notion that comes from poesis, which comes from making. So poetics is about construction. His philosophy of tragedy is a philosophy of construction of tragedy, and I had hoped that my Philosophy of Horror would be a philosophy of construction of horror in much the same way. [Noël Carroll in Ray Privett and James Kreul, ‘The Strange Case of Noël Carroll: A Conversation with the Controversial Film Philosopher’, Senses of Cinema, Issue 13, 2001]

    Film Studies For Free joins in the usual, general, Halloween hullabaloo with a scary little contribution of its own: a list of links to online and openly accessible philosophical considerations of the horror film genre.

    Many of the below studies have been inspired by the extensive considerations of film horror by philosopher Noël Carroll or engage with the themes raised by his work.  

    FSFF commends these to you with a little bloggish shudder: they are, after all, somewhat terrifyingly good…

      Latest five volumes of REFRACTORY: A Journal of Entertainment Media

      Frame grab from Spider (David Cronenberg, 2002). Read Samatha Lindop’s 2011 article on this film here. For another interesting, psychiatrically-informed account of Cronenberg’s film, see here

      Thanks to Adrian Martin (whose video version of his Ritwik Ghatak talk is now online, by the way), Film Studies For Free heard about the latest issue of the online Australian journal Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media. And thanks to that, FSFF realised it hadn’t really mentioned an issue of Refractory since Volume 14, 2009 in its entry on “Split Screens”. So, below are direct links to all of the contents of this great journal since that issue. And FSFF promises not to be quite so pommily slow next time this journal publishes one of its characteristically excellent collections of film and media studies…

      Refractory, Volume 19, 2011

      1. Blockbusters for the YouTube Generation: A new product of convergence culture – Kristy Hess and Lisa Waller
      2. ‘Out wiv the old ay plumma?’ The Uncanny Marginalized Wastelands of Memory and Matter in David Cronenberg’s Spider – Samantha Lindop
      3. A Moving Image Experience: Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, June-July, 2010 – Wendy Haslem
      4. “A series of emotional remembrances”: Echoes of Bernard Herrmann -Daniel Golding
      5. Don Draper On The Couch: Mad Men and the Stranger to Paradise – Mark Nicholls

      Refractory, Volume 18, 2011

      1. Editorial: Transitions in Popular Culture – Matthew Sini and Angie Knaggs  
      2. “Never my soul”: Adaptations, Re-makes and Re-imaginings of Yeşilçam Cinema – Can Yalcinkaya  
      3. Looking Past Seeing: Imaginative Space and Empathetic Engagement in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and There Will Be Blood – Elliott Logan
      4. Struggling to find their place: Indigenous youth, identity, and storytelling in Beneath Clouds and Samson and Delilah – Samantha Fordham
      5. Transgeneric Tendencies in New Queer Cinema – Matthew Sini
      6. Before Priscilla: Male-to-Female Transgender in Australian Cinema until the 1990s – Joanna McIntyre
      7. From Night and Day to De-Lovely: Cinematic Representations of Cole Porter – Penny Spirou
      8. (Em)Placing Prison Break: Heterotopic Televisual Space and Place – Angie Knaggs
      9. “Think Smart”: multiple casting, critical engagement and the contemporary film spectator – Nicole Choolun

      Refractory, Volume 17, 2010

      1. From Cult Texts to Authored Languages: Fan Discourse and the Performances of Authorship – Karolina Agata Kazimierczak
      2. The Pinball Problem – Daniel Reynolds
      3. The Invisible Medium: Comics Studies in Australia – Kevin Patrick
      4. Acculturation of the ‘Pure’ Economy: Sci Fi, IT and the National Lampoon – Rock Chugg
      5. Subversive Frames: Vermeer And Lucio Fulci’s SETTE NOTE IN NERO – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
      6. Ringu/ The Ring: Tracing the Analog Spirit in a Digital Era – Michael Fisch
      7. Keaton and the Lion: A Critical Re-evaluation of The Cameraman, Free and Easy and Speak Easily – Anna Gardner
      8. Rosy-Fingered Dawn: The Natural Sublime in the work of Terrence Malick – Dimitrios Latsis

      Refractory, Volume 16, 2009

      1. Editorial ‘All Your Base Are Belong to Us’: Videogames and Play in the Information Age : Tom Apperley and Justin Clemens
      2. A Critique of Play – Sean Cubitt
      3. ‘The code which governs war and play’: Computer games, sport and modern combat – Jeff Sparrow
      4. Being Played: Games Culture and Asian American Dis/identifications – Dean Chan
      5. “I’m OK”: How young people articulate ‘violence’ in videogames – Gareth Schott
      6. How to Do Things With Images – Darshana Jayemanne
      7. Myths of Neoconservatism and Privatization in World of Warcraft – Kyle Kontour
      8. Babelswarm -Justin Clemens, Christopher Dodds and Adam Nash

      Refractory, Volume 15, 2009

      Double Issue: General Issue and Television Issue, Editors: Angela Ndalianis and Lucian Chaffey

      1. Reality is in the performance’: Issues of Digital Technology, Simulation and Artificial Acting in S1mOne – Anna Notaro
      2. The Neo-baroque in Lucha Libre – Kat Austin
      3. Ryan Is Being Beaten: Incest, Fanfiction, and The OC – Jes Battis
      4. Mobile Content Market: an Exploratory Analysis of Problems and Drivers in the U.S. – Giuseppe Bonometti, Raffaello Balocco, Peter Chu, Shiv Prabhu, Rajit Gadh
      5. Televisual control: The resistance of the mockumentary – Wendy Davis
      6. The Classic Hollywood Town at the Dawn of Suburbia – Stephen Rowley
      7. Digital Intervention: Remixes, Mash Ups and Pixel Pirates – Amanda Trevisanut
      8. The Bill 1984 – 2009: Genre, Production, Redefinition – Margaret Rogers
      9. Guiding Stars – Carly Nugent