Historical Knowledge as Self-Understanding in the Films of Whit Stillman

Film and Philosophy 26:69-84 (2022)
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Abstract

Whit Stillman’s films depict characters attempting to gain relevant knowledge of their historical situation so that they can shape their lives. Through an analysis of scenes from each of Stillman’s films, this essay demonstrates that historical knowledge is presented as a kind of self-understanding in the films. That historical knowledge is useful for gaining control over one’s future as well as for properly evaluating one’s life reveals a philosophically interesting approach to self-knowledge. Stillman’s complex approach of layering contexts further suggests an elusive account of the self.

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Timothy Yenter
University of Mississippi

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