An Introduction through the Senses
Routledge – 2014 – 224 pages
Too often, film and the cinema have been treated primarily as a visual medium, with the consequence that spectatorship has come to be regarded as a matter of the eye alone. In Film History: An Introduction through the Senses, Thomas Elsaesser and Michael Wedel put the other senses at the centre of the cinematic experience, charting the dynamics along which the cinema has configured, positioned, and rearticulated itself over time within the larger cultural force field of media technologies, the body, and the senses.
Much like Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses, each chapter in this new book begins by identifying the major terms of a particular period--including early cinema, classical cinema, modern (art) cinema, post-classical cinema, avant-garde cinema, world cinema, and digital cinema--and closely analyzing of one or more of the era's key films. Using major twentieth century media theorists, the authors then examine the way in which media technologies have affected, altered, traversed, or perverted the body and the senses. For example, they consider:
-the cinema as a site for the training of the body and the mass production of the senses
-the cinema as the exploitation of the body and the commodification of the senses
-the cinema as a public space to adapt the body and educate the senses to the demands of society
By broadening our understanding of spectatorship Elsaesser and Wedel are able to provide an account of film history that more easily accomodates the new forms that the cinematic experience is taking in the 21st century. The advanced undergraduate will find this book to be an excellent introduction to both major media theorists like McLuhan and Kracauer and also film history more generally.
Thomas Elsaesser is Professor of Film and Television Studies in the Department of Art and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. A renowned film scholar, he is the author and editor of many books, including Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses.
Michael Wedel is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.