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Title: Modernism and the Narrative Cultures of Film
Authors: Foltz, Jonathan Higbie
Advisors: Cadava, Eduardo L
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Film
Media Studies
Subjects: Modern literature
Film studies
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: <italic>Modernism and the Narrative Cultures of Film</italic> treats writing about film as a literary genre unto itself, where authors spun self-reflexive fictions about the cinema that doubled as commentaries on their own novelistic experiments. For the early period of the twentieth century in which no definition of cinema was self-evident, each description of the medium assumed the speculative quality of a fiction. Reading literature by Virginia Woolf, H. D. and Henry Green alongside film reviews and treatises on aesthetics, I show that film offered a displaced figure for persistent questions about representation, psychology, and narrative omniscience. Cast alternately as a mechanized art of surfaces and as the ideal vehicle of subjectivity, as the epitome of aesthetic detachment and as the prime example of art's manifest entanglement in everyday life, film lent itself to rampant figuration, at once organizing and undoing the central antagonisms of modernist aesthetics. I argue that the mobile appropriation, affirmation, and disavowal of film by modernist writers provided ready occasions to rethink literary narration. Situating these writings within the chaotic debates about film as &ldquo;art,&rdquo; <italic>Modernism and the Narrative Cultures of Film</italic> shows that literary descriptions of cinema functioned as richly digressive allegories of narrative method, in which notions of subjectivity, language, and omniscience were reconfigured in the shadow of a medium that seemed to make those categories at once obsolete and newly urgent. As the works of Virginia Woolf, H. D., and Henry Green attest, such literary fables of cinematic meaning (and meaninglessness) harbored striking&mdash;if oblique&mdash;meditations on narrative innovation and its social content, seeking unlikely affinities between the apparent privacy of prose and the conjectural modes of spectatorship. Writing not out of a desire to imitate film but out of a need to address its aesthetic consequences, the writers I consider expressed their discontent with the individualism of the novel, exploring formal modes of collective dissidence and public fantasy.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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