This article examines the post-millennial popularity of the found footage movie, in particular its engagement with the representational codes of non-fiction media. Whilst the majority of critical writings on found footage identify the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Centre as a key visual referent, they too often dwell on the literal re-enactment of the event. This article instead suggests that these films evoke fear by mimicking the aesthetic and formal properties of both mainstream news coverage and amateur recording. As such they create both ontological and epistemological confusion as to the reality of the events depicted. Rather than merely replicating the imagery of terror/ism, these films achieve their terrifying effects by mimicking the audiences media spectatorship of such crisis.
Fiction, representation and
Across all the following chapters
the relationship between fiction and literary representation will be
prominent. In order to shorten our discussion of this issue, I would
like to summarise the limits of this relationship. All kinds of literary
fiction take place between the opposing – but equally unreachable
Ewa Plonowska Ziarek
Mimesis in black and white:
feminist aesthetics, negativity and semblance
As Sarah Worth suggests, despite well-established feminist work in literary criticism,
film theory and art history, feminist aesthetics ‘is a relatively young discipline, dating
from the early 1990s’, and thus still open to contestation and new formulations.1 In
this context it might seem paradoxical that one of the founding texts of feminist aesthetics, Rita Felski’s Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change,
proclaims its impossibility
This book offers a unique and timely reading of the early Frankfurt School in response to the recent 'affective turn' within the arts and humanities. It revisits some of the founding tenets of critical theory in the context of the establishment of the Institute for Social Research in the early twentieth century. The book focuses on the work of Walter Benjamin, whose varied engagements with the subject of melancholia prove to be far more mobile and complex than traditional accounts. It also looks at how an affective politics underpins critical theory's engagement with the world of objects, exploring the affective politics of hope. Situating the affective turn and the new materialisms within a wider context of the 'post-critical', it explains how critical theory, in its originary form, is primarily associated with the work of the Frankfurt School. The book presents an analysis of Theodor Adorno's form of social critique and 'conscious unhappiness', that is, a wilful rejection of any privatized or individualized notion of happiness in favour of a militant and political discontent. A note on the timely reconstruction of early critical theory's own engagements with the object world via aesthetics and mimesis follows. The post-Cold War triumphalism of many on the right, accompanied by claims of the 'end of history', created a sense of fearlessness, righteousness, and unfettered optimism. The book notes how political realism has become the dominant paradigm, banishing utopian impulses and diminishing political hopes to the most myopic of visions.
This book constructs a vocabulary for the literary study of graphic textual phenomena. It examines the typographic devices within a very particular context: that of the interpretation of prose fiction. The graphic surface of the page is a free two-dimensional space on which text appears either mechanically or consciously. As visual arrangements of printed text on the graphic surface, graphic devices can contribute to the process of reading, combining with the semantic content within the context which that text creates. The book first sets out to demonstrate both how and why the graphic surface has been neglected. It looks at the perception of the graphic surface during reading and how it may be obscured by other concerns or automatised until unnoticed. Then, the book examines some critical assumptions about the transformation of manuscript to novel and what our familiarity with the printed form of the book leads us to take for granted. It looks at theoretical approaches to the graphic surface, particularly those which see printed text as either an idealised sign-system or a representation of spoken language. The book further looks at how 'blindness' to the graphic surface, and particularly its mimetic usage, is reflected and perpetuated in literary criticism. It deals with the work of specific authors, their texts and the relevant critical background, before providing a concluding summary which touches on some of the implications of these analyses.
The interest in aesthetics in philosophy, literary and cultural studies is growing rapidly. This book contains exemplary essays by key practitioners in these fields which demonstrate the importance of this area of enquiry. New aestheticism remains a troubled term and in current parlance it already comes loaded with the baggage of the 'philistine controversy' which first emerged in an exchange that originally that took place in the New Left Review during the mid-1990s. A serious aesthetic education is necessary for resisting the advance of 'philistinism'. Contemporary aesthetic production may be decentred and belonging to the past, but that is not a reason to underestimate what great works do that nothing else can. Despite well-established feminist work in literary criticism, film theory and art history, feminist aesthetics 'is a relatively young discipline, dating from the early 1990s'. The book focuses on the critical interrogation of the historical status of mimesis in the context of a gendered and racial politics of modernity. Throughout the history of literary and art criticism the focus has fallen on the creation or reception of works and texts. The book also identifies a fragmentary Romantic residue in contemporary aesthetics. The Alexandrian aesthetic underlies the experience of the 'allegorical'. 'Cultural poetics' makes clear the expansion of 'poetics' into a domain that is no longer strictly associated with 'poetry'. The book also presents an account of a Kantian aesthetic criticism, discussing Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Aesthetic Judgement and Critique of Judgement.
A feeling for things: objects,
And things, what is the correct attitude to adopt towards things?
–Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable
Recent years have seen an explosion of scholarly interest in things. From the
‘new materialisms’ to ‘object-oriented ontology’, from ‘thing theory’ to ‘actor-
network theory’, much of contemporary thought is turning its attention to the
world of objects. What are the reasons for this shift? One of the principal motivations behind the turn to objects is a reaction against the ‘cultural turn’ and its
traumatic. The trauma-event must
be signified by the repetitive signifier of the trauma-symptom.
Thought about in this way, there can be no denying the relationship between trauma and mimesis, for to remember the
trauma-event as part of the trauma-symptom is to recreate/
restage that event imaginatively.
This is, of course, in direct contradiction to the ‘impossibility’
of trauma’s representation, but it is perhaps time to move away
from this slightly narrow understanding of representation and
the subsequent reductive assumption about the ability of representational forms
; the trauma-symptom is
constructed in a post-hoc reliving of the trauma-event.
While some trauma theorists regard the repetitive nightmares
of trauma-symptoms as non-symbolic and absolutely cognate
with or true to the original event, others identify a more complex
relationship with the trauma-symptom which suggests that
the return of the trauma-event is mimetic but always already
distorted (cf. Leys 2000: 239–255). A more detailed engagement
with the notion of mimesis and trauma can be found in Chapter
3, but it is worth noting here that Leys proffers the suggestion
specificity of the context of the Godran illumination’s
production can help to elucidate something of the image’s
relationship to mimesis, I would like to propose that it is
precisely the image’s denial of specificity that should
prompt the next stage of our reading. If Morison’s
interpretation denies aspects of the specificity of the moment of
production, the work itself denies that