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May 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
jeff shires <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 5 May 1994 19:50:04 CDT
[log in to unmask] -- Thu, 5 May 1994 00:00:01 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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     Polyphoy is one of those terms that Bakhtin attempts to apply
but never truely defines.  Some people take polyphony to be a multude
of voices in a work.  Bakhtin tends to label than more or dialogue.
Polyphony tends to be more of a repositioning of the author, where
the author's discourse is heard, but it is not the dominant discourse.
I have argued in the past that Woody Allen's _Crimes and Misdemeanors_
is polyphonic because Woody's views are in the film, but clearly other
discourses are competing for dominance and one discourse does not come
out as a winner (also Allen borrows the structure of the film from
Dostoevsky's _Crime and Punishment_ which Bakhtin refers to as
polyphonic).  So the question really comes down to the positioning
of the author.
     A couple of books you may want to check out:
  Bakhtin, Mikhail. _Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics._ Ed. and
trans. Caryl Emerson.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
1984.--Here is where Bakhtin lays out the theory of polyphony
and it runs throughout the book (the index is real helpful).
  Morson, Gary Saul and Caryl Emerson.  _Mikhail Bakhtin._ Stanford:
University of Stanford Press, 1990.  The best explanation of Bakhtin's
theories I have found.
     I have some troubles with Stam's book.  I feel it is a little
much or a formalist reading (and application) of Bakhtin's theory.
However, it is a wonderful starting place and the bibliography leads
to a number of good sources.
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