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Title: The neuroscientific uncanny : a filmic investigation of twenty-first century hauntology
Author: Gent, Susannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 8509 0446
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2019
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The research space of this practice-led Ph.D. invites filmmaking, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and neuroscience to interact towards an expanded understanding of the uncanny and the related concept of hauntology. The three films produced explore methods of spontaneous, creative play. Scanner follows a scientific study that attempts to explore a neurological underpinning of the uncanny through an fMRI brain scan study. The film explains the process, describes the results, and illustrates the uncanny by experimenting with the documentary form. Unhomely Street, made while experiencing post-concussive syndrome, unwittingly acts as a therapeutic project. Through post-hoc reflection the film reveals unconscious aspects of the creative process. Psychotel, a ‘thesis’ film, is informed by psychoanalytic accounts of the uncanny, philosophical, and neuroscientific descriptions of selfhood, and influenced by representations of the uncanny in art work and the supernatural horror genre. In conclusion, following Nicholas Royle’s assertion that the world is uncanny because of the discrepancy between our apparent (self) knowledge and our inability to enact change, I reflect upon the potential of filmmaking as research to promote new ways of thinking. Through a neuropsychoanalytic account of the uncanny I show that the evolved brain operates according to primitive and automatic processes. These processes are largely hidden from consciousness and the uncanny occurs when our sense of agency is challenged. While this view is underpinned by neuroscience and cognitive psychology, I demonstrate that it is not at odds with the psychoanalytic account of the ‘return of the repressed’. In short, in the words of Freud, the uncanny arises when the individual understands themself as ‘a temporary and transient appendage to the quasi-immortal germ-plasm’.
Supervisor: Kivland, Sharon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available