Research

Anderson, Victoria and Pollock, Griselda. eds. 2009. Bluebeard’s Legacy: Death and Secrets from Bartok to Hitchcock. London: IB Tauris.

The tale of the serial wife-murderer Bluebeard, his defiant, and surviving, final wife, a bloodied key and a secret chamber of horrors, has fascinated writers, composers, artists and film-makers throughout modern times. It is a unique story that dares to disclose and explore masculine violence: the homme fatal. This transdisciplinary book explores the deep appeal of the Bluebeard story for twentieth-century culture. Its major focus is how the modernist imagination used the elements of Bluebeard’s tale to explore masculinity’s anxieties in the face of the emerging demands of women for redefinition and sexual equality: anxieties also of ethnic and cultural difference, and fundamental disquiet about sexuality, pathology and violence in the masculine. With chapters by Maria Tatar, Elisabeth Bronfen, Mererid Puw Davies, Ian Christie, David Cooper, Michael Hiltbrunner and the editors, the volume undertakes cultural, contextual and musicological analyses of Bartok’s opera ‘Duke Bluebeard’s Castle’, tracing Bluebeard’s evolution from Perrault in the seventeenth century to the cinematic hommes fatals of Melies, Fritz Lang and Hitchcock. The result is an intriguing kaleidoscope of sexuality, curiosity, violence and death.

Official URL: here

Anderson, Victoria. 2010. Sins of Permission: The union of rape and marriage in Die Marquise von O and Breaking the Waves. In: Russell, Dominique. ed. Rape in Art Cinema. New York: Continuum, pp. 69-82.

Victoria Anderson approaches the vexed connection between rape and marriage in her readings of Eric Rohmer’s Die marquise von O and Lars von Triers5 controversial Breaking the Waves. Using Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa as a meta-text, she explores the rhetorical links that binds rape with privation and marriage itself and demonstrates how both films complicate notions of consent and will. In Anderson’s subtle analysis the rapes that are displaced offer a “different understanding of how rape might function as a complex series of affects rather than a single, definitive act.” Like Brinkema, Anderson posits the unrepresentability of rape as a problem of perspective and competing narrations. Without the woman’s story – her interiority – rape is always shadowy possibly not there.

Oficial URL: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/rape-in-art-cinema-9780826429674/

Barrowman, Kyle. 2011. Collateral: A Case Study in Ethical Subjectivity. Offscreen 15 (9).

This essay uses the concept famously developed by Robin Wood of the “incoherent text” to explore Michael Mann’s 2004 crime thriller Collateral. After situating Collateral on a cinematic timeline that includes, among other incoherent texts, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) and James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984), this essay analyzes the unique brand of post-9/11 incoherence that sets Collateral apart from its ideological antecedents. Focusing in particular on the intense relationship between the two lead characters, Max (Jamie Foxx) and Vincent (Tom Cruise), each of whom over the course of the film is forced by the other to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of their psyches and challenged to forge a new ethical paradigm for the uncertain future with which they are faced, this essay argues that Mann makes inspired use in Collateral of several tenets of genre filmmaking in pursuit of a new model of ethical subjectivity.

Official URL: http://offscreen.com/view/collateral_subjectivity

Barrowman, Kyle. 2012. The Sublime Stupidity of Alfred Hitchcock. The International Journal of Žižek Studies 6 (3).

This essay analyzes the prolific filmography of Alfred Hitchcock in an attempt to untangle the Lacanian thread that has been traced through it by Slavoj Žižek; in particular, considerable focus given to the Hegelianism that underlies Hitchcock’s dialectical engagement with Lacan’s claim that “there is no such thing as a sexual relationship.” Through examinations of particularly salient films in the Hitchcock labyrinth including Notorious (1946), Vertigo (1958), and Marnie (1964), this essay analyzes the recurrence throughout Hitchcock’s films of such Lacanian concepts as desire, lack, the phallus, and the formulae of sexuation. This essay culminates with an analysis of the dialectical shift executed by Hitchcock in Marnie, which this essay argues represents the highest point of Hitchcock’s cinematic artistry, the point at which he reaches a level of sublimity that firmly situates him on the same philosophical plane as Hegel and Lacan.

Official URL: http://zizekstudies.org/index.php/IJZS/article/download/628/634

Barrowman, Kyle. 2013. Blockbuster Ideology: Steven Seagal and the Legacy of Action Cinema. Offscreen 17 (4). 

This essay elucidates the historical and theoretical contexts in which action cinema has been situated within the film studies discipline in an effort to identify and critique the flawed philosophical premises that fuel the widespread philosophical resistance to action movies. Offering thorough interrogations of the heraldic scholarship of Andrew Britton, Robin Wood, and Stephen Prince in relation to the general assumptions with which scholars have engaged much of what constitutes action cinema, this essay seeks to call attention to and debunk some of the leading fallacies hindering academic engagements with action cinema by mobilizing the fecund points of Noël Carroll’s defense of “mass art.” In opposition to negative caricatures of action cinema, this essay analyzes the films of Steven Seagal and argues that Seagal’s work is exemplary of the potential for action cinema to provide a forum for political engagement that does not inherently stifle authorial expressivity or limit the potential for oppositional sentiment, thus establishing the credentials of action cinema as both genuine political filmmaking and genuine film art.

Official URL: http://offscreen.com/view/blockbuster_ideology_part_1

Barrowman, Kyle. 2014. No Way as Way: Towards a Poetics of Martial Arts Cinema. JOMEC Journal 5. 

This essay explores the history and evolution of academic film studies, focusing in particular on the development of an admirably interdisciplinary branch of inquiry dedicated to exploring martial arts cinema. Beginning with the clash between the auteur theory and the development of a psycholinguistic model of film theory upon film studies’ academic entrenchment and political engagement in the 1960s and 1970s, this essay continues past the Historical Turn in the 1970s and 1980s into the Post-Theory era in the 1990s and beyond, by which time studies of martial arts cinema, thanks in large part to the “cultural studies intervention,” began to attract scholars from various academic disciplines, most notably cultural studies. At once diagnostic and prescriptive, this essay seeks to historically contextualize the different modes of thinking that have informed past engagements with the cinema in general while also offering a polemical meta-criticism of exemplars in an effort to highlight deficiencies in the current interpretive orthodoxy informing contemporary engagements with martial arts cinema in particular. This essay endeavors to find a way to allow the larger enterprise of Martial Arts Studies to compliment, rather than colonize and cannibalize, the study of martial arts cinema, and this polemic offers as a model for scholars both in and out of film studies a “poetics of martial arts cinema” committed to dialectical, “alterdisciplinary” scholarship.

Official URL: https://publications.cardiffuniversitypress.org/index.php/JOMEC/article/download/282/292

Barrowman, Kyle. 2014. Action Aesthetics: Realism and Martial Arts Cinema. Offscreen 18 (10). 

This essay endeavors to reconceive cinematic realism for the purpose of elucidating the complexities and the vicissitudes of realism in the history of martial arts cinema. Following a reconsideration of the work of the renowned French film theorist, André Bazin, as well as a reconsideration of the embattled concept of suture, this essay develops the concept of martial suture in order to overcome the two most problematic tendencies in scholarship on martial arts cinema, each of which reinforces the other: First, the tendency to discuss cinematic realism in reductive and inflexible terms where montage is antithetical to realism, and second, the tendency to ignore the differences in martial arts action between striking (martial arts featuring offensive attacks consisting of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows) and grappling (martial arts featuring offensive attacks consisting of throws, trips, joint-locks, and chokes). The films of Steven Seagal serve as the test case for martial suture, while The Bourne Identity (2002) serves to indicate the potential for continued aesthetic experimentation with regard to the dialectical relationship between realism and aesthetics.

Official URL: http://offscreen.com/view/action-aesthetics-pt1

Barrowman, Kyle. 2015. History in the Making: Martial Arts between Planet Hollywood and Planet Hong Kong. Martial Arts Studies 1.

In virtually all existing scholarship on martial arts cinema, what is indicated in the invocation of such an ostensibly vast cinematic realm (temporally and culturally) is the specific and narrow martial arts cinema of Hong Kong from the 1960s to the 1980s. Scholars have ignored, dismissed, or written off many of the threads which have come together to form the unique cinematic patchwork known as martial arts cinema; even more problematically, they have all-too-easily dismissed the American thread as quasi-racist orientalist opportunism on the part of Hollywood filmmakers. Against this deeply problematic view, this essay reviews two important recent contributions to American martial arts cinema scholarship in order to highlight problems in previous work and to create space for a new position from which to better understand and appreciate the American inheritance of the martial arts.

Official URL: https://publications.cardiffuniversitypress.org/index.php/MAS/article/download/45/46

Bowman, Paul. 2010. Sick Man of Transl-Asia: Bruce Lee and Rey Chow’s Queer Cultural Translation. Social Semiotics 20 (4), pp. 393-409.

This article examines the status of Bruce Lee films when they are approached as cultural translations; “translations”, however, that have no simple original. It does so in terms of Rey Chow’s proposed approach to cultural translation as set out in Primitive passions; firstly by indicating the constructed character of the simultaneously-produced Cantonese-language and English-language versions of the same films, and then by exploring some of the implications of the linguistic inconsistencies and semiotic play that is made apparent across the different audio and subtitling options made available by the DVD versions. As Chow has argued, various forms, sites and scenes of linguistic and cultural translation are often tense situations, in which the ethical and political stakes are high. So this article focuses on the treatment of linguistic, institutional and geographical “translation” within several Bruce Lee films themselves, as exemplified by the treatment of the regular stock figure of the treacherous/perverse translator. In so doing, the article argues for a relation between cultural translation and the “perverting” of established arrangements and values.

Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10350330.2010.494393

Bowman, Paul. 2012. Film Culture Crossover: Film Fight Choreography and the East/West Binary After Bruce Lee. Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy 1 (9).

This paper reads the emergence of ‘Oriental style’ in Hollywood (Park 2010) as an exemplary case of what Rey Chow calls ‘cultural translation (Chow 1995). The paper explores some of the intimate yet paradoxical relationship between ‘Oriental’ martial arts and the drive for ‘authenticity’ in both film choreography and martial arts practices; plotting the trajectories of some key martial arts crossovers since Bruce Lee. It argues that, post-Bruce Lee, Western film fight choreography first moved into and then moved away from overtly Chinese, Japanese, Hong Kong or indeed obviously ‘Oriental style’; a move that many have regarded as a deracination or westernisation of fight choreography. However, a closer look reveals that this apparent deracination is actually the unacknowledged rise of Filipino martial arts within Hollywood. The significance of making this point, and the point of making this kind argument overall boils down to the insight it can give us into how ‘cultures’ and texts are constructed, and also into our own reading practices and the roles they play, sometimes in perpetuating certain problematic ethno-nationalist discourses.

Official URL: http://www.ctrl-z.net.au/journal/

Bowman, Paul. 2014. Sex and Race Go Pop. In: Machin, David ed. Visual Communication. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, pp. 153-171.

This chapter examines the question of the relations between media repre- sentations, their interpretations, and popular cultural practices and attitudes in relation to them. It begins by stating the centrality of filmic representations to popular culture today, and moves on to analyse, first, the gendered and sexualised images as seen in a large proportion of music videos by way of a reading of ‘Ayo Technology’ by 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake, a reading that uses Laura Mulvey’s hugely influential feminist account of ‘visual pleasure’. Secondly, the chapter opens its frames of reference to include a consideration of the place of masculinity and ethnicity in popular cultural discourses, drawing on the work of Rey Chow and her concept of ‘coercive mimeticism’. Mulvey’s approach was constructed in film theory and Chow’s notion of coercive mimeticism was constructed in postcolo- nial studies, but this chapter shows their usefulness and applicability in any analy- sis of the visual aspects of popular culture.

Available at: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/51831

Noonan, Caitriona. 2011. ‘Big stuff in a beautiful way with interesting people’: The spiritual discourse in UK religious television. European Journal of Cultural Studies 14 (6), pp. 727-746.

This article critically examines changes in the style and tone of religious broadcasting. Increasingly, a discourse of spirituality and faith is used by television producers to describe and discuss their output, as these are seen as less contentious and more audience-friendly ways of promoting faith-based programming. However, these themes continue to be framed within a recognizable set of religious traditions, mainly Christian. Combining interviews with producers and analysis of the BBC series Extreme Pilgrim (2008), this article examines the representation of spirituality as it is visualized and narrated. It analyses how this representation challenges traditional religious institutions, the new role it creates for broadcasters within lifestyle television, and discusses whether this subjective position can be conveyed authentically through the medium of television. The future of religious broadcasting rests on finding sustainable formats, yet these lifestyle formats offer distinct challenges in relation to their successful production and reproduction.

Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1367549411419975

Noonan, Caitriona. 2013.  Piety and professionalism: The BBC’s changing religious mission (1960–1979). Media History 19 (2), pp. 196-212.

This research focuses on two decades in the BBC’s relationship with religion as an area of programming. The 1960s and 1970s marked a period of massive social change in Britain in which traditional religious institutions were challenged relentlessly and a more religiously diverse society emerged. This makes it a significant time to examine the BBC’s response and the impact these changes had on the culture of production within the Corporation. This research asks how did the BBC frame the making of religious programmes within the changing socio-political context and how did their changing religious mission sit within the Corporation’s wider strategic aims? Religious broadcasting also offers a unique microcosm within which to view the changing professional culture of the BBC itself. To address these interests this research uses documents from the BBC’s written archive and accounts from staff involved with the genre at the time.

Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13688804.2013.791425

Mcelroy, Ruth and Noonan, Caitriona. 2016. Television drama production in small nations: Mobilities in a changing ecology. Journal of Popular Television 4 (1), pp. 109-127.

For small nations, the television industry functions on a number of interlinking levels constructing a sense of identity, contributing towards a democratic public sphere, and providing an important cultural and economic resource. Television drama is particularly important to these functions due to its ability to tell stories about and for a nation (Nelson 2007). However, the ecology of television drama production is changing in terms of technological innovation, greater competition, downward pressure on costs and evolving audience consumption patterns. Set within this context, this article investigates the television industry of a particular small nation, Wales, and its most recent creative infrastructure project, the BBC’s Roath Lock Studios.

One of the key features of the Welsh production ecology is mobility, and the authors frame this research around three aspects of mobility which condition the making of television drama: how production and symbolic value are mobilized in small nations, the consequences of production mobility between regions and nations, and the impetus for content mobility through the international sale of series and formats. These forms of mobility are intimately linked to the negotiation of power which circumscribes all indigenous drama production, but which may be felt more acutely by smaller nations where access to talent, greater limits on resources and questions of sustainability condition the everyday realities of television professionals.

Using interviews with key stakeholders in the field of television drama production in Wales, this article argues that the voice and lived experience of television practitioners and stakeholders is a vital element in the academic critique of cultural and industrial developments in television production. The research suggests that Roath Lock would seem to be a success within its principal term of reference, which is to house more efficient and well-made drama for the BBC network and for S4C. On a more subjective level, it has been used by a variety of stakeholders to create positive perceptions of Welsh creative industries and ‘put Wales on the map’, to compete with other locales within and outside the United Kingdom, for international productions, capital investment, talent and industry legitimacy. However, real concerns remain about whether it enables drama production which adequately represents contemporary life in Wales, and delivers on the cultural aspirations of television workers and viewers.

Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jptv.4.1.109_1

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