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Robert Stam


Professor of Cinema Studies
Ph.D. 1976 (comparative literature), California (Berkeley); M.A. 1966 (English literature), Indiana; Certificate 1965, Oxford (England).

Major Interests: Third-World film; U.S. independent film; semiotics; literature and film; multiculturalism. --http://www.nyu.edu/fas/Faculty/StamRobert.html [Apr 2005]

Reflexivity in film and literature: From Don Quixote to Jean-Luc Godard (1985) - Robert Stam

Reflexivity in film and literature: From Don Quixote to Jean-Luc Godard (1985, 1992) - Robert Stam [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Reflexivity in film and literature: From Don Quixote to Jean-Luc Godard (1985, 1992) - Robert Stam [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Book News, Inc.
The "reflexive tradition" in film and literature calls attention to fictional constructs, such as when realist narrative is interrupted to point to the mechanisms in the art. Stam's engaging study was originally published in 1985 by UMI Research Press, and is reprinted with a substantial (11 pp.) new preface by the author. Includes 53 b&w stills. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

From Daniel Chandler's website
In simple audio-visual terms, reflexivity (often referred to as 'self-reflexivity') describes the process by which a film or television programme draws attention to itself, reminding the spectator of its textuality and status as a media construct...

The term 'reflexivity' is derived from the Latin reflexio/reflectere meaning 'to bend back on'. Applied to audio-visual practice, by extension of this etymological root, refelxivity refers to the capacity of film and television texts to draw attention to their existence as constructs. It is the process by which texts foreground their authorship and production, acknowledging their status as representation.

Within this schema of audio-visual reflexivity, we can identify a series of such devices: strategies of fracture, distanciation, interruption, discontinuity. Stylistic virtuosity, as one example, operates according to these principles, and involves an exaggerated. self-conscious use of style that draws the spectator's awareness to the fact that he or she is watching an audio-visual construction. We become alert to the role of the director and the artifice on which all filmmaking and television production is predicated.

Other reflexive strategies draw attention to the formal materials and processes of media construction, literally revealing to the spectator both the tools of production (camera, microphone, lights and so on) and the physical objects of audio-visual communication (for instance, a strip of film). Within this textual focus, it is the medium that becomes the critical area of interest. In popular animated series like The Simpsons and The Ren and Stimpy Show, the animation process is revealed to ironic, comic effect through pastiche and textual reference to production technique. While in Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929), the filmmaking apparatus is similarly revealed through a systematic focus on the film's own production. Clearly, the reflexive canon encompasses a wide range of devices, the most explicit among them being direct address to the camera, narrative discontinuity, authorial intrusion, essayistic digression, display of process and apparatus, reflexive inter-titles, and other meta-cinematic devices such as the frame-within-a-frame and the film-within-a-film.

From the entry for 'Reflexivity'. In Roberta E Pearson & Philip Simpson (2001): Critical Dictionary of Film and Television Theory. London: Routledge, pp. 377-8 --http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Modules/MC30820/reflexivity.html [Apr 2005]

see also: metafiction - self - referentiality - Daniel Chandler - Jean-Luc Godard - Don Quixote

Film and Theory: An Anthology (1999) - Robert Stam

Film and Theory: An Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies) (1999) - Robert Stam (Editor), Toby Miller (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Description: This anthology offers a collection of some of the most provocative and influential writings of film theory from the 1960s and 1970s, along with new directions from the last two decades. An introductory essay to the volume sums up developments in film theory from the beginning up through the 1980s, while introductions to specific groupings of essays summarize debates on those issues. Rather than look at film theory in terms of schools and allegiances, the editors investigate questions and problematics: What is the cinema? What is the cinematic apparatus? How do spectators differ in their desires? What is realism? Is realism desirable? Thus psychoanalysis, reception theory, cognitive theory, race theory, and feminism all provide partially valid answers to the question: What does the spectator want? This anthology's goal is to facilitate a polylogue among the theorists who have ignored or maligned one another and to deprovincialize film theory. Film Theory multiplies the perspectives and positions, the situations and locations, from which film theory is spoken.

Author Description: Toby Miller is a Professor in the Cinema Studies Department at New York University. He is the author of a wide range of work in cultural studies, including two recent books, Technologies of Truth (1998) and (with Alec McHoul) Popular Culture and Everyday Life (1998). He is also co-editor of the journal Social Text and with Robert Stam co-editor of The Blackwell Companion to Film Studies. Robert Stam is a Professor in the Cinema Studies Department at New York University. His many books include Film Theory: An Introduction (Blackwell Publishers, 1999); Tropical Multiculturalism: A Comparative History of Race in Brazilian Cinema and Culture (1997); Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media, with Ella Shohat (1994), which won the Katherine Singer Kovocs "Best Film Book Award"; and Subversive Pleasures: Bakhtin, Cultural Criticism, and Film (1992).

Contents: Introduction. Part I: The Author: Introduction: Robert Stam. 1. Dennis Potter and the Question of the Television Author: Rosalind Coward. 2. To Desire Differently: Feminism and the French Cinema (extract): Sandy Flitterman-Lewis. 3. The Unauthorized Auteur Today: Dudley Andrew. Part II: Film Language: Introduction: Robert Stam. 4. The Specificity of Media in the Arts: Noel Carroll. 5. For a Semio-Pragmatics of Film: Roger Odin. 6. The Scene of the Screen: Envisioning Cinematic and Electronic 'Presence': Vivian Sobchack. Part III: The Image and Technology: Introduction: Toby Miller. 7. Necessities and Constraints: A Pattern of Technological Change: Brian Winston. 8. Projections of Sound on Image: Michel Chion. 9. Modes of Production: The TV Apparatus: John T. Caldwell. Part IV: Text and Intertext: Introduction: Robert Stam. 10. Questions of Genre: Steve Neale. 11. A Semantic/Syntactic Approach to Film Genre: Rick Altman. 12. The 'Force-Field' of Melodrama: Stuart Cunningham. 13. Film Bodies: Gender, Genre and Excess: Linda Williams. Part V: The Question of Realism: Introduction: Robert Stam. 14. The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde: Tom Gunning. 15. Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narrational Principles and Procedures: David Bordwell. 16. Black American Cinema: The New Realism: Manthia Diawara. Part VI: Alternative Aesthetics: Introduction: Robert Stam. 17. Towards a Third Cinema: Notes and Experiences for the Development of Cinema of Liberation in the Third World: Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino. 18. For an Imperfect Cinema: Julio Garcia Espinosa. 19. Towards a Critical Theory of Third World Films: Teshome H. Gabriel. 20. Rethinking Women's Cinema: Aesthetics and Feminist Theory: Teresa de Lauretis. Part VII: The Historical Spectator/Audience: Introduction: Toby Miller. 21. Cowboys and Indians: Perceptions of Western Films Among American Indians and Anglos: JoEllen Shively. 22. Television News and its Spectator: Robert Stam. 23. Addressing the Spectator of a 'Third World' National Cinema: The Bombay 'Social' Film of the 1940's and 1950's: Ravi S. Vasudevan. Part VIII: Apparatus Theory: Introduction: Toby Miller. 24. The Imaginary Signifier: Christian Metz. 25. The Orthopsychic Subject: Film Theory and the Reception of Lacan: Joan Copjec. 26. Feminism, Film Theory, and the Bachelor Machines: Constance Penley. Part IX: The Nature of the Gaze: Introduction: Toby Miller. 27. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema: Laura Mulvey. 28. Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator: Mary Ann Doane. 29. The Oppositional Gaze: bell hooks. 30. Looking Awry: Slavoj Zizek. Part X: Class and the Culture Industries: Introduction: Toby Miller. 31. Constituents of a Theory of the Media: Hans Magnus Enzenburger. 32. Ideology, Economy and the British Cinema: John Hill. 33. Mass Culture and the Feminine: The 'Place' of Television in Film Studies: Patrice Petro. Part XI: Stars and Performance: Introduction: Toby Miller. 34. Introduction to Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society: Richard Dyer. 35. Marlon Brando in 'On the Waterfront': James Naremore. 36. Roseanne: Unruly Woman as Domestic Goddess: Kathleen K. Rowe. 37. The She-Man: Postmodern Bi-Sexed Performance in Film and Video: Chris Straayer. Part XII: Permutations of Difference: Introduction: Robert Stam. 38. Gender and Culture of Empire: Towards a Feminist Ethnography of the Cinema: Ella Shohat. 39. Categories of Stereotyping of American Indians in Film: Ward Churchill. 40. Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation: Stuart Hall. 41. White Privilege and Looking Relations: Jane Gaines. 42. White: Richard Dyer. Part XIII: The Postmodern and the Global: Introduction: Robert Stam. 43. Television and Postmodernism: Jim Collins. 44 Critical and Textual Hypermasculinity: Lynne Joyrich. 45. Conclusion: Henry Jenkins. Bibliography. Index. --D Williams via amazon.com

Genre Theory [...]

The problem of definition
A number of perennial doubts plague genre theory. Are genres really 'out there' in the world, or are they merely the constructions of analysts? Is there a finite taxonomy of genres or are they in principle infinite? Are genres timeless Platonic essences or ephemeral, time-bound entities? Are genres culture-bound or transcultural?... Should genre analysis be descriptive or proscriptive? (Robert Stam 2000, 14) via Daniel Chandler, http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/intgenre/intgenre1.html
Grouping by period or country (American films of the 1930s), by director or star or producer or writer or studio, by technical process (CinemaScope films), by cycle (the 'fallen women' films), by series (the 007 movies), by style (German Expressionism), by structure (narrative), by ideology (Reaganite cinema), by venue ('drive-in movies'), by purpose (home movies), by audience ('teenpix'), by subject or theme (family film, paranoid-politics movies). (Bordwell 1989, 148)

While some genres are based on story content (the war film), other are borrowed from literature (comedy, melodrama) or from other media (the musical). Some are performer-based (the Astaire-Rogers films) or budget-based (blockbusters), while others are based on artistic status (the art film), racial identity (Black cinema), locat[ion] (the Western) or sexual orientation (Queer cinema). (Robert Stam 2000, 14).

Mikhail Bakhtin [...]

Subversive Pleasures: Bakhtin, Cultural Criticism, and Film (Parallax: Re-Visions of Culture and Society) - Robert Stam [Amazon US][FR] [DE] [UK]
Subversive Pleasures offers the first extended application of Mikhail Bakhtin's critical methods to film, mass-media, and cultural studies. With extraordinary interdisciplinary and multicultural range, Robert Stam explores issues that include the "translinguistic" critique of Saussurean semiotics and Russian formalism, the question of language difference in the cinema, issues of national culture in Latin America, and "the carnivalesque" in literature and film. He discusses literary works by Rabelais, Shakespeare, and Jarry and treats films by Vigo, Bunuel, Wertmuller, Imamura, Mel Brooks, Monty Python, Marleen Gooris, and others. Now in paperback, Subversive Pleasures is a splendidly lucid introduction to the central concepts and analytical methods of Bakhtin and the Bakhtin circle.

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