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Summary Medium specificity is a theory, or rather a cluster of arguments, that traditionally rests on the idea that media are the physical material that makes up artworks, and that this material contains specific and unique features capable of 1) differentiating media from one another, and 2) determining the aesthetic potential and goals of each medium. As such, medium specificity is essential for aestheticians interested in matters of aesthetic ontology and value. G. E. Lessing is traditionally credited with making the first medium specificity claims when he compared the aesthetic form and aims of painting to that of poetry. Medium specificity then made a reappearance in the twentieth century, in the writings of the early film theorists, most famously Rudolph Arnheim. In that context, medium specificity served the purpose of establishing film as an artform of its own, unlike theatre or photography, with unique aesthetic potential. In the second half of the twentieth century, medium specificity arguments are once again used by film theorists like André Bazin to re-establish the aesthetic potential of film in light of technological advancements. In contemporary aesthetics, Noël Carroll is considered one of the main actors of the debate surrounding medium specificity. Carroll formulated important objections to the notion, especially regarding its essentialism and purism. But nonetheless medium specificity has undergone a recent resurgence, most notably through works by Berys Gaut and Dominic McIver Lopes. 
Key works Arnheim 1957 Carroll 2007 Gaut 2010 Lopes 2014
Introductions Carroll 2019 Torregrossa 2020
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  1. 导演 观众 粉丝(Director, Audience, Fans).Lingfei Luan - forthcoming - Beijing, China: China Social Science Press.
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  2. Computer Art, Technology, and the Medium.Christopher Bartel - 2022 - Being and Value in Technology.
    Technological advancements often lead to revolutions in the creation of art; but, what is unclear is whether such advancements always correspond to revolutions regarding the artistic medium. The notion of an artistic medium is central to our thinking about, engagement with, and appreciation of art. Accounts of the interpretation, understanding, and experience of art must at some point grapple with the role of the artistic medium against such endeavors. Moreover, artists do not choose their medium by accident, but presumably do (...)
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  3. A Cinema for the Ears: Imagining the Audio-Cinematic Through Podcasting.Dario Llinares - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):341-365.
    Podcasts have been described as “a cinema for the ears” and this application of a visual rhetoric to describe an audio-only experience results in an attempt to define what is still a relatively new medium. I argue that it is possible to consider something cinematic without the presence of moving images. Assertions in favour of the cinematic nature of podcasts often employ the visual imagination of listeners evoked by heightened audio characteristics that a particular podcast may possess. By focusing on (...)
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  4. Remember the Medium! Film, Medium Specificity, and Response-Dependence.Clotilde Torregrossa - 2020 - Dissertation, University of St. Andrews
    Medium specificity is a theory, or rather a cluster of arguments, in aesthetics that rests on the idea that media are the physical material that makes up artworks, and that this material contains specific and unique features capable of 1) differentiating media from one another, and 2) determining the aesthetic potential and goals of each medium. As such, medium specificity is essential for aestheticians interested in matters of aesthetic ontology and value. However, as Noël Carroll has vehemently and convincingly argued, (...)
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  5. Sound in Film.Paloma Atencia-Linares - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 189-214.
    This chapter is focused on the philosophy of film sound in the analytic tradition and its limitations; drawing from current literature in other fields, it aims to complement some philosophical discussions typically centered on the image with their aural counterparts. Firstly, it provides an overview of early skeptical views on the contribution of sound to the artistic status of films and critically questions the status of sound in contemporary philosophical conceptions of film suggesting a revision that takes seriously the idea (...)
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  6. Medium Specificity.Noël Carroll - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 29-47.
    This chapter critically explores the notion of medium specificity both in its classical form, as represented by figures such as Rudolf Arnheim and André Bazin, and in its current revised versions as proposed by philosophers such as Berys Gaut, Dominic Lopes, and Ted Nannicelli. The thesis of this entry is that the idea of medium specificity is flawed in all of its variations.
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  7. Film Art From the Analytic Perspective.Deborah Knight - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 357-379.
    This chapter examines the emergence of a distinctively analytic approach to film as art. I begin with an overview of Berys Gaut’s claim that the philosophy of film art is, roughly speaking, organized around three levels of analysis: the film medium; film narrative and aesthetics; and philosophical themes that emerge in films. Next I trace the emergence of an analytic philosophy of film as art in the work of Alexander Sesonske and Francis Sparshott. Sesonske and Sparshott each draw attention to (...)
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  8. The Television Medium.Ted Nannicelli - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 949-970.
    This chapter offers a critical overview of philosophical debates concerning the nature of the television medium, television’s art status, and television’s aesthetic value.
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  9. Medium Specificity in Holocaust-Related Films.Lawrence Benaquist & Sander Lee - 2018 - Film and Philosophy 22:58-77.
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  10. Murray Smith. Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film. Reviewed By. [REVIEW]Iris Vidmar - 2018 - Philosophy in Review 38 (3):123-125.
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  11. Artistic Medium.Wack Daniel - 2017 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Artistic medium is an art critical concept that first arose in 18th century European discourse about art. Medium analysis has, historically, attempted to identify that out of which works of art and, more generally, art forms are created, in order to better articulate norms or standards by which works of art and art forms can be evaluated. Since the 19th century, medium analysis has emerged in two different forms of art critical and theoretical discourse. Within traditional art forms such as (...)
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  12. Instances of Cinema.Ted Nannicelli - 2017 - Projections-The Journal for Movies and Mind 11 (1):1-15.
    This article sketches a commonplace yet neglected epistemic puzzle raised by the diversity of our film-viewing practices. Because our appreciative practices allow for variability in the " instances " of cinematic works we engage, many of our experiential encounters with those works are flawed or impoverished in a number of ways. The article outlines a number of ways in which instances of cinema can vary – including, for example, in terms of color, score, and aspect ratio. This variability of instances (...)
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  13. Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film.Murray Smith - 2017 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Murray Smith presents an original approach to understanding film. He brings the arts, humanities, and sciences together to illuminate artistic creation and aesthetic experience. His 'third culture' approach roots itself in an appreciation of scientific innovation and how this has shaped the moving media.
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  14. How Movies Do Philosophy.Wack Daniel - 2014 - Film and Philosophy 18:89-104.
  15. How Movies Think: Cavell on Film as a Medium of Art.Richard Eldridge - 2014 - Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 51 (1):3-20.
    Stanley Cavell’s writing about movies, from the more theoretical and general The World Viewed (1971) to the later works on specific genres (Pursuits of Happiness, Contesting Tears), has a unifying theme: some movies as (successful) art investigate conditions of accomplished selfhood and interest in experience in medium-specific ways. This claim is explained and defended by explicating the details of the medium-specificity of the moving photographic image (and its history of uses) and by focusing on Michael Verhoeven’s film The Nasty Girl (...)
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  16. Cinematic.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 23 (46):78-95.
    Is cinematicity a virtue in film? Is lack of cinematicity a defect? Berys Gaut thinks so. He claims that cinematicity is a pro tanto virtue in film. I disagree. I argue that the term “cinematic” principally refers to some cluster of characteristics found in films featuring the following: expansive scenery, extreme depth of field, high camera positioning, and elaborate tracking shots. We often use the word as a term of praise. And we are likely right to do so. We are (...)
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  17. Medium-Involving Explanations and the Philosophy of Film.Angela Curran - 2012 - British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (2):191-195.
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  18. Can Film Be A Philosophical Medium?David Davies - 2008 - Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 5 (2):1-20.
    A recent panel at the annual meetings of the American Society for Aesthetics had the title “Can films philosophize?” The answer is, obviously, no, if we take this question literally. But books can’t philosophize either, in this sense. People philosophize, and they generally use natural language as the medium in which they carry out this activity. So our question is, can film serve as a philosophical medium in the ways, or in some of the ways, that language does? To answer (...)
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  19. Was hat Musik im Film zu suchen?Andreas Dorschel - 2005 - In Tonspuren. Musik im Film: Fallstudien 1994 - 2001. Universal Edition. pp. 12-21.
    Attempts to bestow a musical background upon spoken drama have been deemed widely superfluous; most films, by way of contrast, do employ music. This aesthetic divergence invites an account of film music in terms of lack and compensation. The standard account in such terms, viz. that music has to fill the vacuum of silence, does not explain what it is supposed to explain. Rather, music in cinema can restore in a different way the expression lost as reality is reduced to (...)
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  20. Tactile Relief: Reconsidering Medium and Modality Specificity.Fay Zika - 2005 - British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (4):426-437.
    My aim is to show that dissatisfaction with the term ‘tactile pictures’ and the proposal for ‘a multisensory pictorial aesthetic’ introduced by Dominic Lopes is due to an ambiguity of ‘picture’ between visual and spatial representation in-volving more than one sense. In order to avoid this ambiguity, I propose another term in its place and I investigate some of the directions that a richer multimedia and multimodal aesthetic can take.
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  21. Image and Mind: Film, Philosophy and Cognitive Science.Gregory Currie - 1995 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is a book about the nature of film: about the nature of moving images, about the viewer's relation to film, and about the kinds of narrative that film is capable of presenting. It represents a very decisive break with the semiotic and psychoanalytic theories of film which have dominated discussion. The central thesis is that film is essentially a pictorial medium and that the movement of film images is real rather than illusory. A general theory of pictorial representation is (...)
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  22. Philosophy of the Film: Epistemology, Ontology, Aesthetics.Ian Charles Jarvie - 1987 - Routledge & Kegan Paul.
    Examines the overlap between film and philosophy in three distinct ways: epistemological issues in film-making and viewing; aesthetic theory and film; and film as a medium of philosophical expression. This title available in eBook format. Click here for more information . Visit our eBookstore at: www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk.
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  23. Some Philosophical Issues of Film Theory.Noel Edward Carroll - 1983 - Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago
    This thesis examines several major philosophical issues of film theory. These include debates about the specific nature of the film medium and of film art; debates about the nature of cinematic representation and expression; and about the nature of film fiction and film realism. I approach these issues through the work of three film theorists: Rudolf Arnheim, Andre Bazin and V. F. Perkins. ;The subject of Chapter One is Arnheim. Philosophical issues discussed include: Arnheim's commitment to Lessing-type arguments for medium (...)
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  24. Film, the Medium and the Maker.James F. Scott - 1975 - Holt Rinehart & Winston.
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