Out of Field: the future of film studies

Angelaki 17 (4):119 - 137 (2012)
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Abstract

While every discipline in the humanities worries about its future, film studies is caught in the thrall of a particular anxiety, namely the possibility that it lacks a consistent object and a compelling reason. Behind the question of film studies looms the question of cinema itself, an aging techn? that seems to have hung around in the midst of new(er) media that lay claim to the image as their province. Why cinema? Against so many digital incursions, more traditionally minded critics have defended film on the basis of its indexical powers, but this article envisions an entirely different reason to return to the cinema. Where both the return to the index and the recourse to the digital effect tend to regard the cinema as a matter of visibility, I suggest that we might reclaim our faith in the cinema by virtue of what remains unseen and off-screen. Hence, this essay undertakes a brief history of the out of frame in order to induce a conceptualization of the cinema (pace Deleuze) as the art of the ?Outside.? Turning to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, the essay concludes by analyzing how an ostensibly older sense of images nevertheless augurs the critical and philosophical developments with which we can learn to believe in the cinema once more

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