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Title: The aesthetics of cultural modernisation : Hindi cinema in the 1950s
Author: Vitali, Valentina.
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis questions classic notions of culture as ‘representation of contemporary reality’ and the traditional, linear periodisation of art-historical series. Film criticism, caught (a) in a strictly synchronic notion of the relationship between social relations and cultural forms and (b) in the assumption that author and viewer are fully modern subjects, is unable to cope with cinemas the narrative strategies of which do not correspond to those of Western cinema. By way of a preliminary investigation of the relation between the forms of Indian cinema and their multiple historical reference points, this thesis demonstrates the productivity of an approach based on two hypotheses. The first is that capitalist modernisation, that is to say, the historical constellation that led to the emergence of the cinema’s narrative strategies, is not a linear movement towards a society the socio-economic modalities of which are tacitly understood to be those in place in Western societies, but a field of tension in which the long-term trajectory of a society towards a broadly defined form of capitalism within a global economy is determined by the short-term struggles between the specific forces at work in that society. The second hypothesis is that narration consists, among other things, of orchestrating historically layered forms of enunciation that remain available to each of the temporalities and power blocs constitutive of a given constellation. As a consequence, cultural forms may or may not reflect a dominant economic and/or political configuration at any one time. It is precisely in this struggle between concurring (dominant and non-dominant) forces over the power to fix the meaning of forms, that texts can be seen not to ‘reflect’ or to ‘trigger’, but to ‘stage’ historical conditions and, in the process, to mediate within themselves the struggles that shape the ‘outside’ of textual production. This ‘outside’ context is then to be reconceptualised as the conjunction of positions and preoccupations narrativised according to the resources made available by the short, medium and long term historical currents at work within it. These are the premises that are necessary for the comparative study of cinemas from different cultures and epochs to become visible on the horizon of film theory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Comparative film studies Literature Mass media Performing arts Sociology Human services