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Lecture 15

CIN301Y1 Lecture 15: Pluralizing the Spectator

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University of Toronto St. George
Cinema Studies
Kass Banning

Pluralizing the spectator Cognitivist film theory Emphasis on empirically testable and verifiable conscious/rational mental processes Appeals to common sense This can run the risk of a normative or universalizing empiricism Tends toward small-scale local theory and piecemeal theorizing Rather than what Carroll and Bordwell call grand theory Resistance: a key concept in psychoanalysis that refers to obstacles people erect in order to protect themselves against access to the unconscious and its disturbing content E.g. against the insights of psychoanalysis Plantinga on cognitive film theory: The fundamental tenet of a cognitive approach [to film] is that the spectators affective experience is dependent on cognition, on mental activity cued not only by film form but also by story content. In viewing films, cognition would include inferences, hypotheses, and evaluative judgments. Polan vs Plantinga Assumptions against which they are writing Polan Textual domination is always the problem Self-reflexivity is necessarily the solution Ahistorical formalism Plantinga Emotional involvement always precludes critical engagement Ideological stoicism Resistant cinema must encourage alienation and refuse pleasure Ideological formalism: certain film forms have inherent, universal ideological effects Methods and conclusions Polan Attends to aspects of Brechts work that frequently get ignored Concern with content Concludes that ideological criticism should be asking whether a film effects a transformation in the way we regard the world Plantinga Employs a cognitivist approach, which does not assume reason and emotion to be mutually exclusive Concludes that ideological criticism should be asking what kind of emotional experience a film offers On cinematic identification Polan Brechtian art is an art of identification Identification as familiar/reifying Critical identification, rooted in perspective that the world is changeable Three types of pleasure: In familiarity In form In pedagogy and epistephilia Plantinga Structures of Sympathy (Smith) Viewers recognition of character traits and emotion Alignment with characters through perceptual and epistemic means (POV, voice-over narration) Allegiance toward characters based upon moral evaluation Questions to ask of a text based on their arguments Polan Through what means and to what end is the film being self-reflexive? What is it calling attention to itself or the world outside it? In calling attention to itself/ the world, is it facilitating critique? Does it offer social transformation as a horizon of possibility? Plantinga Through what means and to what end is the film offering an affective experience? Is the emotion depicted within and/or produ
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