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Title: Out of the past : reading Lacan and film noir
Author: Tyrer, Ben
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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This project proposes a new reading of the constitution of the critical category of film noir in terms of Lacan’s theorisation of the retroactive construction of meaning. The thesis contends that, despite a turn away from Lacan in Film Studies, psychoanalytic theory must not be abandoned and - rather than regressing to questions of film, language and psychoanalysis articulated in the 1970s (Metz, Screen) - aims to plot a new trajectory, alongside theorists such as McGowan and Zizek, for such inquiry into the cinema. The relationship between psychoanalysis and noir is itself well-trodden ground; however, the major interventions (Kaplan, Krutnik) have been oriented towards questions of gender, leaving unexplored the possibility of noir’s relation to Lacan’s theory of signification. Specifically, this thesis engages the historiography of film noir (Naremore, Vernet, Elsaesser) with Lacan’s theory of the point de capiton to work through the implications for a theory of discursive construction suggested by the registers of the Symbolic, Real and Imaginary. This thesis engages film and theory to discover not simply what Lacan can reveal about noir but crucially what noir can reveal about the structure of meaning. The project also explores various noir tropes as they raise theoretical questions: of particular interest are films such as Double Indemnity (1944) and D.O.A. (1950) that are concerned with the retroactive production of knowledge. In addition, the roles of contingency and necessity in such a relationship to the past are investigated, and both the ontology of noir as a category and the structures of film noir narratives - such as Gilda (1946) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955) - are explored in terms of the Lacanian theory of sets and concepts such as lalangue and suture; an extended reading of The Maltese Falcon (1941) explores the Lacanian notion of fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available