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Title: Characters as social beings : social performance in the French and Czechoslovak New Waves
Author: Koch, Anna
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 235X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates the aesthetic presence of social performance in six French and Czechoslovak New Wave films of the 1960s. The New Wave was particularly interested in portraying everyday life, and the film corpus studied in this thesis focuses specifically on the representation of the characters' social lives. In addition, the films share the commonality of being made with an aesthetic of authenticity inspired more or less by the 1960s observational documentary genre of cinéma vérité. In the film corpus, ordinary social situations occupy a more prominent place on screen than usual, and instigate a social kind of engagement with the films. Where narrative context conventionally provides the framework for a character's actions, in these unconventional films, it is the characters' social environments that more precisely contextualize their way of being. The aim of the thesis is to engage with these social contexts to understand the characters' social behaviours, and to examine how the 'vérité aesthetic' evokes a social kind of reading of the films. To this end, I develop in the first chapter a Goffmanian approach to the films, inspired by sociologist Erving Goffman's writings on social reality as a performative realm. I use his notions of social performance, social framework, and social perception to engage with each film through what I call a 'social gaze' that inspects the social dynamics of the characters' behaviours. Over the course of three case study chapters, I apply this approach to the films to unearth and discuss their social range of meaning. This thesis thus aims to contribute both to film historical scholarship on the 1960s European New Wave, and to a study of the aestheticization of social reality in film in general.
Supervisor: Due, Reidar Sponsor: Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Motion pictures ; Performance ; France ; Czechoslovakia ; Erving Goffman ; Cinema Verite ; New Wave Film ; Social Performance ; 1960s