Graduation Year

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Margit Grieb, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Victor Peppard, Ph.D.

Keywords

Bakhtin, Cinema, Manovich, Narratology, New Media, Nick Cave

Abstract

This dissertation explores the intersection of new media and narrative, as it is presented through a cinematic aesthetic. The narrative language of film is analyzed through the theoretical framework of Bakhtin’s concepts of Heteroglossia, Chronotope, and Dialogism. Bakhtin’s ideas of classifying language act as strong tools for demonstrating how cinematic narrative can inform and alter the perception of its spectators. Lev Manovich’s principles of New Media, specifically Variability, Modularity, and Automation are also utilized to demonstrate how cinema is a constantly evolving paradigm.

Chapter one focuses on the theoretical terminology, outlining the conceptual definitions and illustrating their relevance in precise moments of cinema. This chapter introduces the idea that despite the original conception of Bakhtin and Manovich’s deriving from text and digital processes, their concepts are strongly present in contemporary cinema. Chapter two explores Manovich’s concept of variability in the cinematic genre of Noir. The Coen Brother’s Miller’s Crossing illustrates how the use of pastiche and homage has paved the way for the classic Noir genre to evolve into the genre of Neo-Noir. The aesthetic of Miller’s Crossing is examined in great detail to illuminate the comparisons between the variability of both genres. Chapter three also employs a Neo-Noir aesthetic. In Rian Johnson’s film Brick, the language is as much a character as any of the actors on the screen. A detailed reading of film exploring Bakhtin’s Dialogic concepts is established. The narrative of the film is examined with the idea that multiple meanings exist throughout individual units of speech. Chapter four continues the exploration of new media narrative concepts with a Science Fiction and Noir cinematic hybrid in an investigation of Rian Johnson’s film Looper. The basis of this analysis will be focused on fabula time and how the narrative of the film explores time travel, literally and metaphorically. In Looper the concepts of Chronotope and Modularity are both used to illustrate the director’s stylistic use of narrative sequencing to explore the paradoxes of time travel. Chapter five illustrates Manovich’s principles of new media as demonstrated in a biographical music drama. The documentary 20,000 Days on Earth features 24 hours in the life of Noir rock musician Nick Cave. The use of Cave’s music as a basis for the documentarians’ artful biopic creates an interpretive grid for analyzing the views of the artist and the persona that he has created for himself. Representations of diachrony in Cave’s reflective interviews regarding his evolution as an artist are also examined.

The goal of this dissertation is to provide academic consideration for theoretical concepts that have not been traditionally applied to the study of cinema. It should be of interest to scholars seeking to supplement their endeavors within the realms of film studies as well as new media. In the interest of nurturing an interdisciplinary space for literary studies to exist and inform other branches of scholarship, the topics of new media and narratology, when applied to cinema establish a juncture between historical linguistics, digital media concepts and film studies.

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