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Title: Cinema Non Facit Saltus: Early German Film and the Cinematic Psyche
Authors: Kirkwood, Jeffrey West
Advisors: Levin, Thomas Y
Contributors: German Department
Keywords: continuity
early cinema
proto cinema
Subjects: Film studies
Germanic literature
Art history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation returns to scientific and cultural discourses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to identify an epistemic shift in the relationship between cinema and the psyche--from the physiological to the psychological and from the mechanical to the narrative. It locates the fulcrum for this relationship in a history of "continuity," a term that has traditionally been deployed in film theory to describe the conventions of montage used to establish the "narrative space" responsible for a film's "subject-effects." By tracing the migration of concepts of continuity from scientific discourses to cultural discourses, the dissertation argues that opposition to narrative cinema by members of the Kinoreformbewegung in the early twentieth century marked a displacement of the dangers of film from physiological continuities to psychological continuities. Analysis turns from the redefinition of what the psyche was to how it was trained. Beginning with pedagogical theories of the late eighteenth century the dissertation considers cinematographic technologies' transformation of literary education (Bildung). Apparatuses such as the tachistoscope broke down texts into letters and grammatical protocols and entailed a movement from meaning to mechanics that would later be derided by gestalt psychologists as a "machine theory." However, this disassembly of the continuities of reading, narrative, and thought into empirically defined quantities came at a steep price--it could show how unities broke down into parts, but not how the parts could be reassembled as a whole. The answer to this problem, as the chapter argues, was also found in the cinematograph. Through an examination of psycholinguistic experiments conducted by Benno Erdmann, Friedrich Schumann, James McKeen Cattell, and others, the chapter argues that cinema provided a logic for both dismantling and rebuilding psychic functions. The final chapter investigates cinema's role in the emergence of new psychopathologies. Through an engagement with case studies by Viktor Tausk, Sigmund Freud, and the psychiatrist-turned-cinema-reformer Robert Gaupp, the chapter contends that narrative cinema forced a confrontation with the possibility that the continuity of ego boundaries (Ichgrenzen) could be cinematographically reasserted where textual operations failed.
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:German

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