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The Appropriational Fallacy: Grand Theories and the Neglect of Film Form

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  • Biology
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology


If the title of this article resounds with the polemical palavering of literary theory in the 1940s, I have to submit that the allusion is not entirely accidental. It is not my intention here, however, to resuscitate the arguments of W. K. Wimsatt Jr and Monroe C. Beardsley, but rather to evoke a sense of parallelism between their issues and those at stake here. A crucial objective which informed Wimsatt\'s and Beardsley\'s project was to buttress the significance and irreducibility of the literary text in the face of monopolistic authorial and receptional meaning-making. [3] The scholarly environment that was American New Criticism tended to consider intentionalism and emotionalism as threats to the epistemological prominence and integrity of the text, which was all too readily lost in a plenitude of contexts whose relevance for the literary work was not always impressively transparent. Similarly, within the domain of film studies, it has perhaps become increasingly unclear whether the real object of study is the film text itself, or rather a concatenation of different disciplinary discourses hailing from departments of psychology, sociology, and biology (to name a few). The colonization of cinema studies is not a novel development; as a process its apogee was in the 1970s.

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