Doubting Vision

Doubting Vision : Film and the Revelationist Tradition

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The film theories of Jean Epstein, Dziga Vertov, Bela Balazs, and Siegfried Kracauer have long been studied separately from each other. In Doubting Vision, film scholar Malcolm Turvey argues that their work constitutes a distinct, hitherto neglected tradition, which he calls revelationism, and which differs in important ways from modernism and realism. For these four theorists and filmmakers, the cinema is an art of mass enlightenment because it escapes the limits of human sight and reveals the true nature of reality. Turvey provides a detailed exegesis of this tradition, pointing to its sources in Romanticism, the philosophy of Henri Bergson, modern science, and other intellectual currents. He also shows how profoundly it has influenced contemporary film theory by examining the work of psychoanalytical-semiotic theorists of the 1970s, Stanley Cavell, the modern-day followers of Kracauer and Walter Benjamin, and Gilles Deleuze. Throughout, Turvey offers a trenchant critique of revelationism and its descendants. Combining the close analysis of theoretical texts with the philosophical method of conceptual clarification pioneered by the later Wittgenstein, he shows how the arguments theorists and filmmakers have made about human vision and the cinema's revelatory powers often traffic in conceptual confusion. Having identified and extricated these confusions, Turvey builds on the work of Epstein, Vertov, Balazs, and Kracauer as well as contemporary philosophers of film to clarify some legitimate senses in which the cinema is a revelatory art using examples from the films of filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and Jacques Tati.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 154 x 230 x 6mm | 281.23g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous halftones
  • 0195320980
  • 9780195320985
  • 1,318,474

Review quote

In this philosophically acute and elegantly concise book, Turvey proves himself a bold and highly original interlocutor of the tradition of classical film theory. Anyone interested in the cognitive value of cinema, modernist aesthetics, and visual culture will find his study indispensable, and long overdue. * Edward Dimendberg, author of Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity * Classical film theory represents a rich body of work that is generally overlooked nowadays by contemporary scholars of cinema. In Doubting Vision, Malcolm Turvey demonstrates that this is a mistake. He identifies a hitherto ill-recognized strand of the tradition-the revelationist tradition-and he shows astutely how critical engagement with it has great significance for debates in contemporary film theory. * Noel Carroll, Temple University * In this profoundly original book Turvey anatomizes with acuity and precision a third revelationist tradition of film theory alongside the familiar creationist and realist traditions and traces its persistence in contemporary writers such as Cavell and Deleuze. Further, he demonstrates how the roots of this tradition lie in the denigration of vision within modernism, a denigration that is based upon a conceptual confusion about the nature of seeing. This Turvey systematically extirpates with the tools of ordinary language philosophy. Written with remarkable lucidity and panache, Doubting Vision is an intellectual tour de force that is required reading for all film scholars and anyone who is interested in the history of modernism. * Richard Allen, New York University * In this philosophically acute and elegantly concise book, Turvey proves himself a bold and highly original interlocutor of the tradition of classical film theory. Anyone interested in the cognitive value of cinema, modernist aesthetics, and visual culture will find his study indispensable, and long overdue. * Edward Dimendberg, author of Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity * Classical film theory represents a rich body of work that is generally overlooked nowadays by contemporary scholars of cinema. In Doubting Vision, Malcolm Turvey demonstrates that this is a mistake. He identifies a hitherto ill-recognized strand of the tradition-the revelationist tradition-and he shows astutely how critical engagement with it has great significance for debates in contemporary film theory. * Noel Carroll, Temple University *show more

About Malcolm Turvey

Malcolm Turvey is Professor of Film History and Chair of Visual Culture Department, Sarah Lawrence College. He is also editor and writer for October and co-editor of Wittgenstein, Theory and the Arts (Routledgem, 2001)show more

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. The Revelationist Tradition: Exegesis ; 2. The Revelationsit Tradition: Critique ; 3. Revelationism and Contemporary Film Theory ; 4. The Lure of Visual Skepticism ; Notesshow more

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