New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics: Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Beyond

New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics: Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Beyond

New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics: Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Beyond

New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics: Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Beyond

Synopsis

New Vocabularies in Film Semioticsprovides a comprehensive lexicon of semiotic concepts, defining over 500 critical terms. The authors address key aspects of contemporary semiotic and cultural debate--for example Metz's semiotics, Genette's narratology, the feminism of Mary Ann Doane, and Bakhtinian concepts. The book explores linguistically-oriented terminology in cinema studies; the semiotics of film narrative; the psycho-semiology of the cinema; and intertextuality, discourse, and transtextuality. References to individual films drawn from the work of a wide range of directors including Orson Welles, D. W. Griffiths, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Alfred Hitchcock, Jean Cocteau, and Chantal Akerman illustrate the concepts under discussion. Although especially geared to the needs of film students,NewVocabularies in Film Semioticsis an impressive guide that will be useful for scholars in all areas of the arts, philosophy,and literature where an awareness of semiotic terminology and methodology has become indispensible to serious theoretical work.

Excerpt

The founding premise of this text is that film semiotics has constituted one of the signal advances in arts criticism in recent years. Ever since film theory broke free from the impressionistic debate about auteurism and “realism” which had dominated film-critical discourse through the early 1960s, film semiotics and its developments have been at the center of the analytic enterprise in film. in a first stage, Saussurean structural linguistics provided the dominant theoretical model, followed by a second phase in which Althusserian Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis became the preferred conceptual grids, followed in turn by a more pluralistic period in which movements such as feminism, already a formative presence in film studies, both incorporated and critiqued the antecedent theories and schools. Although post-structuralism “buried” the scientistic dreams of early structuralist semiology, currently semiotics, conceived in a broad sense, continues to form the matrix, and provide much of the vocabulary, for approaches ranging from the linguistic, psychoanalytic, feminist and Marxist to the narratological, reception-oriented and translinguistic. Although film semiotics has partially retreated from its earlier totalizing claims, what Guy Gauthier calls the “semiotic diaspora” remains a dynamizing presence within reflexion on film.

While film-makers and critics had always made sporadic attempts to theorize the cinema-one thinks of the work of Eisenstein, Kracauer, Bazin-it has only been in recent decades that film semiotics emerged as a powerful and comprehensive movement. the growth of semiotic theory and the presence of its vocabulary in a variety of intellectual fields confirms the importance of “the science of signs, sign systems and signifying practices” as a tool for addressing the semantic riches of extremely diverse cultural forms, while semiotics' cross-disciplinary thrust constitutes an antidote to the fragmentation and compartmentalization of intellectual disciplines. But semiotics has constituted a highly specialized language, fecund in neologisms, in borrowed and even resuscitated terms, and despite the wide dissemination of semiotic theory and its vocabulary, the absence of precise definitions and pertinent guidelines for use has made the teaching

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