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March 2002, Week 2


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BARBARA BAKER <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 14 Mar 2002 14:07:12 -0600
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Dear Jane:  Here is post #3

You ask for ideas of academic work on the subject.  Although not
specifically on comprehensibility, you might find Christine Gledhill's
article "Pleasurable Negotiations" in E.D. Pribram, ed. Female
Spectators:  Looking at Film and Television (Verso, 1988) to be useful
in its discussion of the "standard" feminist view that the traditional
narrative structure is patriarchal, thus feminist filmmaking should be
non?traditional in its structure (Gledhill provides an alternative

In addition, you might find it useful to explore the concept of
postmodernism, which seems applicable.   One source is John Hill, "Film
and Postmodernism" in Hill & Gibson, eds., Film Studies:  Critical
Approaches (Oxford, 2000).   Films like "Blade Runner" and "Blue Velvet"
are briefly discussed (along with many others, some that wouldn't be
considered as "postmodern" per se).   Norman Denzin's book Images of
Postmodern Society:  Social Theory and Contemporary Cinema (Sage 1991)
has a whole chapter on "Blue Velvet," as well as other films.   Alien
Zone:  Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction , A. Kuhn, ed.
(Verso, 1990) also has a piece on "Blade Runner."  A book edited by P.
Brooker and W. Booker, Postmodern After?Images;  A Reader in Film,
Television and Video (Arnold 1977) has chapters discussing "Blade
Runner" & "Himmel uber Berlin" ("Wings of Desire"), along with
Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction."   There also is an
article by Jim Collins, "Television and Postmodernism," which explores
Lynch's "Twin Peaks."   Ann Kaplan's book Rocking Around the Clock:
Music Television, Postmodernism, and Consumer Culture (Routledge 1987)
links feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and postmodernism with the
consumption of music videos.   TV comes to mind because you state in
your original post that you are "completely baffled" by stories of
counter?espionage, which means you probably shoulld know about a new
show on ABC tv called "Alias" (which is pretty convoluted in its
storylines, dealing with a graduate student who also is an agent for a
secret government agency, but because they prove to be an evil agency,
is really a double agent, working with the CIA??and, by the way, her
father is also a double agent, and it all involves looking for some
obscure ancient texts while reconcilling with her father,, etc..  The
stories careen around the world in 60 minutes??very fast paced.  I find
it pretty confusing, but, with TV, you can keep watching and things
begin to make more sense over time).

These are all just suggestions.  They may not even be what you're
looking for, but I hope some are useful to you.

Barbara L. Baker
Professor of Communication
Warrensburg, MO. (USA) 64093
[log in to unmask]

>>> [log in to unmask] 03/14/02 08:03AM >>>
drew perry writes, in part:

>>We keep getting told that today's
>>generation of non-readers (a generalisation,
>>I know, but strikes me as a plausible
>>characterisation) are just literate in a new
>>way - they're visually literate.

>>But then you keep hearing about how
>>film or television texts that stretch
>>the conventions one iota (convoluted
>>narrative styles, profound existential
>>subtext, allusive or open closures, symbolic
>>imagery etc) are incomprehensible, unfathomable.
>>That The Matrix (for e.g.) is just sill sci-fi stuff
>>that 'makes no sense' ... just get into the special effects.

and though i quite agree with him i think it might be
worth making an additonal distinction . . . if visual
literacy is the ability to decode the conventional [but
rapidly evolving] codes and languages of cinema,
then they are indeed very literate . . .

   . . .  but  . . .  if by visual literacy we mean the ability
to move from those codes to a different set of codes
that drew names as "convoluted narrative styles, profound
existential subtext, allusive or open closures, symbolic imagery etc"
in other words conceptual codes that are not specifically
cinematic but that we take as a central part of the
western intellectual tradition, then they are almost totally
illiterate . . . and i take it that one of the main objections
in some parts of our culture to this new literacy is precsiely
that it seems to interfre with the development of literacy
of the more traditional kind -- which had little to do with
simnply deciphering words and more to do with being
able to frame the results conceptually


Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite