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November 1995, Week 4


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Tony Williams <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 27 Nov 1995 11:36:57 CST
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From: Tony Williams
 I've not read much mail about the person Godard as opposed to the work. My
University's incompetent cms system may be at fault. But, while Mike is
obviously correct in criticizing the romantic implications of authorship
a la sayings such as "The Cinema is Nicholas Ray" surely rigidity also
occurs when we rigidly interpret axioms such as the "death of the author"
or "texts write authors" to apply to each and every situation?
  Surely, a more flexible definition of authorship is needed to take
cognizance of different situations? Many years ago Pam Cook criticized the
rigid overtones of the death of the author thesis at a time when female
independent directors were gaining access to cinematic expression and wanted
to promote personal/ political/ textual issues in their films at a time when
male critics such as Wollen and McCabe had delivered their verdicts from the
lofty theoretical pinnacles of the 70s SCREEN Mount Sinai. Although
circumstances often determine the validity of personal intervention into
any text, surely there are occasions when authorship does enter into
consideration? I'm thinking of John Caughie's final conclusion at the end
of THEORIES OF AUTHORSHIP when he sees the director as part of a system
involving industry, aubjectivity, and history etc as well as Andy Medhurst's
suggestion in a SCREEN article some years back about seeing a Noel Coward
"gay" influence within the text of BRIEF ENCOUNTER.
   The whole issue needs some discussion of the complexities surrounding
new defintions and understandings arising from the post-Barthes/Foucault era.
Tony Williams
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