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Title: The paradox of fiction revisited : a cognitive approach to understanding (cinematic) emotion
Author: Barratt, Daniel Henry
ISNI:       0000 0001 3447 3461
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2004
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The following project is intended as a contribution to the inter-disciplinary enterprise of cognitive film theory. Employing a cognitive approach, the project examines our capacity to respond emotionally to audiovisual fictions in general and cinematic fictions in particular. In order to structure and focus the investigation, the project centres on the paradox of fiction: namely, the question of why and how we respond emotionally to fictional characters and events, especially when we are consciously aware of their fictional - i.e., non-existent - status. (It also considers the related paradoxes of representation and empathy.) The main strategy for solving the paradox is to challenge the proposition that (cinematic) emotions require 'existence beliefs'; in tum, this strategy can be divided into 'direct' and 'indirect approaches', as exemplified by the 'seeing' and 'thought theories' respectively. An additional strategy is to revise the Cartesian framework which underlies the paradox as a whole. The first three main chapters explicitly address the direct approach. The process of direct engagement can be divided roughly into a 'seeing stage' and a 'reacting stage'. In light of this, Chapter 2 outlines a modular and computational view of the mind/brain, considering some of the ways in which we 'see' the world and the cinema. In a corresponding fashion, Chapter 3 outlines a multi-level model of the emotion system from a neurobiological perspective, considering some of the ways in which we 'react' to what we see. The function of Chapter 4 is to develop the multi-level model in question by adopting a connectionist and cognitive perspective, thereby tracing both an associative network and a cognitive appraisal route to (cinematic) emotion. The final main chapter - Chapter 5 - explicitly addresses the indirect approach. Given that appeals to 'thought' and 'imagination' are potentially problematic, it re-traces the simulative route to (cinematic) emotion, demonstrating how the multi-level model acts as both a constraint on, and an alternative to, emotional simulation.
Supervisor: Smith, Murray ; Thomas, Alan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: N Visual Arts