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Core course - Strand 1: Theorising Moving Images

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Strand 1: Theorising Moving Images

Michaelmas term 2021, Thursdays, 1-3pm, weeks 1-8 (unless otherwise stated)

1.   Ontology

Laura McMahon (lcm31@cam.ac.uk)

Reading

  • Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Richard Howard, trans. (London: Vintage, 2000 [1980]). (If possible, students should acquire their own copies of Camera Lucida).
  • André Bazin, ‘The Ontology of the Photographic Image.’ In What is Cinema?. Volume I. Hugh Gray, ed. and trans. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), pp. 9-16.
  • Jonathan Beller, ‘Camera Obscura After All: The Racist Writing with Light’, The Message is Murder: Substrates of Computational Capital (London: Pluto Press, 2018), 99-114.

Further Reading

  • Phil Rosen, Change Mummified: Cinema, Historicity, Theory (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).

Screening

  • Electrocuting an Elephant (Edison, 1903)
  • How It Feels to Be Run Over (Hepworth, 1900)
  • Mothlight (Stan Brakhage,1963)
  • Blow Job (Andy Warhol, 1963)
  • Dyketactics (Barbara Hammer, 1974)
  • The Girl Chewing Gum (John Smith, 1976)

 

2. The Aesthetic

Laura McMahon

Reading  

  • Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, Gabriel Rockhill, trans. (London: Continuum, 2004), pp. 12-34 and pp. 42-45.
  • Gilles Deleuze, 'Having an Idea in Cinema', G. Deleuze & F. Guattari,  New Mappings in Politics, Philosophy and Culture, Eleanor Kaufman and Kevin Jon Heller, eds. (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 14-19.

 Further Reading

  • Scott Durham, ‘“The Center of the World is Everywhere": Bamako and the Scene of the Political’, World Picture 2 (Autumn 2008). http://www.worldpicturejournal.com/WP_2/Durham.html
  • Rosalind Galt, Pretty: Film and the Decorative Image (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011)
  • Jacqueline Maingard, ‘Screening Africa in Colour: Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako’, Screen, 51:2 (2010), 397-403
  • Jacques Rancière, 'What Aesthetics Can Mean', in From an Aesthetic Point of View: Philosophy, Art and the Sciences, Peter Osborne, ed. (London: Serpent's Tail, 2000), 13-33.
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ (1988), in Williams and Chrisman, eds, Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory: A Reader (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994) pp. 66-111.
  • James S. Williams, ‘Neoliberal violence and aesthetic resistance in Abderrahmane Sissako’s Bamako (2006)’, Studies in French Cinema, 19:4 (2019), 294-313

Screening  

  • Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006)

 

3. Form and Medium

Laura McMahon

Reading

  • G.W.F. Hegel, Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, Vol. I T.M. Knox, trans. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975 [1835]), pp. 1-55.
  • Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Ben Fowkes, trans. (London: Penguin 1990), Chapter 7, Part 1 'The Labour Process', pp. 283-292.
  • Maya Deren, An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form, and Film, in Essential Deren, Bruce R. McPherson, ed. (Kingston, NY: Documentext, 2005), pp. 85-109.

Further Reading

  • David Bordwell, Narration in the Fiction Film (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), pp. 3-47; 48-62.
  • Eugenie Brinkema, The Forms of the Affects (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014)
  • Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, Michael Shaw, trans. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), pp. 55-82.
  • Lorenz Engell, ‘Ontogenetic machinery’, Radical Philosophy 169 (September-October 2011), pp. 10-12.
  • Erwin Panofksy, Perspective as Symbolic Form, Christopher S. Wood, trans. (New York: Zone Books, 1997).
  • Bernard Siegert, ‘Doors: On the Materiality of the Symbolic’, John Durhan Peters, trans. Grey Room 47 (Spring 2012), pp. 6-23.

Screening

  • Ritual in Transfigured Time (Maya Deren, 1946)
  • Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)

 

4. Watching

Laura McMahon

Reading

 

Further Reading

  • Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, 'The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception', in Dialectic of Enlightenment, John Cumming, trans. (London: Verso, 1997 [1944]), pp. 120-167.
  • Jean-Louis Baudry, 'Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus', trans. Alan Williams, Film Quarterly, 28.2 (Winter 1974-5), pp. 39-47.
  • Jean-Louis Baudry, 'The Apparatus: Metapsychological Approaches to the Impression of Reality in Cinema'Camera Obscura 1 (Fall 1976), pp. 104-128.
  • Jonathan Beller, The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle (Dartmouth College Press, 2006), pp. 1-33.
  • Karen M. Bowdre, ‘Passing Films and the Illusion of Racial Equality’, Black Camera, 5:2 (Spring 2014), 21-43
  • Fred Camper, ‘The Films of Douglas Sirk’, Screen (Summer 1971), pp. 44-62.
  • Elena Gorfinkel, ‘Getting it done’, Sight & Sound, October 2017, pp. 16-17 [on Everson]
  • Christian Metz, Psychoanalysis and Cinema: The Imaginary Signifier. Celia Britton, trans. (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1982).
  • Laura Mulvey, ‘Afterthoughts on “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” inspired by Duel in the Sun’, in Feminism and Film Theory, ed. Constance Penley (London: Routledge, 1988), pp. 57-68.
  • Paul Willemen, ‘Distanciation and Douglas Sirk’, Screen 12 (Summer 1971), pp. 63-67.
  • Paul Willemen, ‘Towards and an Analysis of the Sirkian System’ Screen 13 (Winter 1972), pp. 128-134.

Screening

  • Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
  • Quality Control (Kevin Jerome Everson, 2011)

 

5. Time

Laura McMahon

Reading

  • Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (London and New York: Continuum, 2005) – Preface, Chapter 1 (sections 1 & 2), Chapter 4 (sections 1 & 2)
  • Elena del Río, ‘Performing the narrative of seduction: Claire Denis’ Beau Travail (Good Work, 1999)’, Kinoeye, 3:7 (2003), https://www.kinoeye.org/03/07/delrio07.php

Further reading

  • Martine Beugnet, Claire Denis (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004)
  • Claire Colebrook, Gilles Deleuze (London: Routledge, 2002).
  • Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 1-32.
  • Bliss Cua Lim, Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique (Durham, NC.: Duke University Press, 2009)
  • Douglas Morrey, ed., ‘Special Issue: Claire Denis and Jean-Luc Nancy’, Film-Philosophy, 12.1 (2008) <http://www.film-philosophy.com/index.php/f-p/issue/view/11>
  • Laura Mulvey, 'Passing Time', in Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (London: Reaktion, 2006), pp. 17-32.
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘A-religion’, Journal of European Studies, 34:1/2 (2004), 14-18.
  • Elena del Río, Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance: Powers of Affection (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008)
  • David Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997).

Screening 

  • Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)
  • Atlantiques (Mati Diop, 2009)

 

6. Sensation

Laura McMahon

Reading

  • Laura U. Marks, ‘Introduction’ and ‘Video Haptics and Erotics’, in Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), pp. ix-xxii, pp. 1-20.
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘The Image--the Distinct’ in The Ground of the Image. Jeff Fort, trans. (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), pp. 1-14.

 

Further reading

  • Jennifer Barker, The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009)
  • Walter Benjamin, 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', in Illuminations, Hannah Arendt, ed.; Harry Zohn, trans. (New York: Schocken, 1969), pp. 217-251.
  • Martine Beugnet, Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of Transgression (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007)
  • Miriam Hansen, 'The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism'Modernism/Modernity 6:2 (April 1999), pp. 59-77.
  • Laura U. Marks, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000)
  • Gayle Salamon, Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010)
  • Vivian Sobchack, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (University of California Press, 2004)
  • Dziga Vertov, 'The Cine-Eyes. A Revolution', (1923), in Richard Taylor and Ian Christie, eds., The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 89-94.

 

Screening

  • Nånting måste gå sönder/Something Must Break (Ester Martin Bergsmark, 2014)

Further Screening

  • Fuses (Carolee Schneemann, 1967)
  • La Captive (Chantal Akerman, 2000)
  • Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
  • Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
  • Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)

 

7. Exclusions

Laura McMahon

Reading

  • Ann Cvetkovich, ‘In the Archive of Lesbian Feelings’, in An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), Chapter 7, pp. 239-271.
  • Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), pp. 1-31.
  • Hito Steyerl, ‘In Defense of the Poor Image’, in The Wretched of the Screen (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012), pp. 31-45.

 

Further reading

  • Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (Routledge: 1993), pp. 121-140.
  • Tina M. Campt, ‘The Visual Frequency of Black Life: Love, Labor, and the Practice of Refusal’, Social Text, 37:3 (2019), 25-46.
  • Eva Cherniavsky, Incorporations: Race, Nation, and the Body Politics of Capital (Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), pp. 71-99.
  • Stefanie K. Dunning, ‘She’s a B*(u)tch: Centering Blackness in The Watermelon Woman’ in Queer in Black and White: Interraciality, Same Sex Desire, and Contemporary African American Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), pp. 84-105.
  • Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Oakland, CA; Brooklyn, NY: PM Press; Autonomedia, 2012).
  • Alyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015).
  • bell hooks, ‘Is Paris Burning?’. In Black Looks: Race and Representation, (Boston: South End Press, 1992), pp. 145-156.
  • Achille Mbembe, ‘Necropolitics’, Public Culture 15.1 (2003), 11-40.
  • Susan Sontag, ‘Notes on Camp’. In Against Interpretation (New York: Dell Publishing, 1966), pp. 275-292.
  • Meg Wesling, ‘Queer Value’glq: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 18:1 (2012), pp. 107-125.
  • Frank WildersonRed, White, Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), pp. 1-32.

 

Screening

  • The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996)

Further Screening

  • Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991)
  • Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1989)
  • Mariposas en el Andamio (Butterflies on the Scaffold, Margaret Gilpin and Luis Felipe Bernaza, 1996)
  • Paris is Burning (Jenny Livingston, 1990)
  • Several Friends (Charles Burnett, 1969)
  • Sodom (Luther Price, 1989)
  • Formation (Beyoncé Knowles, Melina Matsoukas, 2016)

 

 

8.  Post-

Laura McMahon

Reading

  • Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, trans. David Wills, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet (Fordham University Press, 2008), pp. 1-11.
  • Rosi Braidotti, ‘Introduction’, The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), pp. 1-12.
  • Steven Shaviro, Post Cinematic Affect (London: Zero Books, 2010), pp. 11-34.

Screening

  • Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
  • Corporate Cannibal (Grace Jones [performer] and Nick Hooker [director], 2008)

Further reading

  • Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering and Queer Affect (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012)
  • Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2007)
  • Ian James, ‘The Nonhuman Demand’, Paragraph, 42:1, 6-21.
  • Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, Or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991), pp. 1-54.
  • D. N. Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007)
  • Cary Wolfe, What is Posthumanism? (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), pp. xi-xxxiv.