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Title: Death and the wandering woman : notes towards a cinema of mourning
Author: Armstrong, R. L.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis sets out to theorize a genre of ‘mourning film’, or ‘cinéma du deuil’ which came into its own from the early 1990s, an era during which the cinema reached its centenary, saw fresh technological innovation and renewed investment in representing masculinity-in-peril, all of which helped shape the type. From the British and Continental arthouse, the Hollywood studies and the American independent sector come works which broached the effects of bereavement in sophisticated ways, often informed by recent trauma theory and grief therapy. The roots of this preoccupation originate in cinema’s evolution alongside nineteenth century spiritualism. Both were forms of image-conjuring combined with strong emotional content, and made separate though similar appeals to women, key protagonists in modern mourning cinema. Proposing an archaeology of mourning, this thesis proffers classical horror’s inherent concern with passage, melodrama’s emotionality and aesthetic ‘excess’, and European modernism’s investment in subjectivity as providing a rich impetus to modern mourning cinema. While drawing on Freud, trauma and grief theory, feminist film theory, and particularly mobilizing Deleuze’s and Daniel Frampton’s theorisation of post-classical cinema, this research positions the representation of mourning, with its play of presence and absence, its modernist manipulations of image and sound, its lachrymal gestures, at the heart of an attempt to understand cinema’s appeal. Privileging genre, theme and gender over authorship, this theorisation of a new genre proposes case studies of post-classical precedents and modern mourning films, while drawing a ‘bottom-up’ account of genre from post-classical initiatives of arthouse exhibition and a contemporary context of domestic spectatorship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available