Graduation Year

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Amy Rust, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brendan Cook, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brook Sadler, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maria Cizmic, Ph.D.

Keywords

French Impressionism, Intersubjectivity, Jean Epstein, Magic, Radio, T.S. Eliot

Abstract

In the early 1900s, industry and new technologies dislocated our sense of selfhood. Since the Industrial Revolution, the world had become increasingly crammed with material objects, leading up to when the invention of radio and the rise of electricity perpetuated and evidenced an interest in the immaterial. A similar fascination with magic as expressed in cultural forms such as the traveling show and the séance pointed to our new relationship to the object world: the self, dislocated from the body, could relocate in objects, forming a circuitous relationship akin to electricity. This phenomenon is encapsulated by the representation of enchanted objects in the poetry and film of this era. T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (1922) and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915) make a natural pairing with the films of French Impressionism, particularly Dimitri Kirsanoff’s Ménilmontant (1926) and Jean Epstein’s Coeur Fidèle (1923), because these works all depict central characters whose selfhood extends beyond themselves and projects into objects, animating them and imbuing them with autonomous, lifelike characteristics in a manner analogous to an electrical current. Humans function increasingly like objects and objects begin to take on the qualities of living people, emphasized by both the formal and thematic elements of these poems and films. However, rather than isolating human beings in a soulless world of objects, this projection has the potential to introduce a new form of intersubjective and interobjective connectivity.

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