Graduation Year

1534821480

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

Andrew Berish, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Ferguson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brook Sadler, Ph.D.

Keywords

Care, Environmentalism, Place, Relationality, Space, Time

Abstract

I create a dialogue between films credited with reviving the Western film genre in the early 1990’s. I examine spatial representations in a group of films I label “the revival westerns”: Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990), Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), and George P. Cosmatos’ Tombstone (1993). Through the use of extreme long shots, characters demonstrating a confined sense of place, and continuity editing, the revival westerns erect a concentrically scaled conception of space and place and maintain a linear temporality. However, I offer Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995) as an intervention that reassembles these spatial and temporal notions. Dead Man’s abstinence from the extreme long shot, elliptical editing, and multiple, simultaneous, and rearrangeable narratives, envisions space as a uniting presence that precedes and always exists in place, as well as beyond it, realizing place as part of a trans-scalar assemblage and time as non-linear. These spatiotemporal alternatives unmoor the stasis and fixity associated with the revival westerns’ notion of space, place, and time. This spatial and temporal dialogue is then contextualized within the social anxieties and economic violences employed during the neoliberal boom of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I analyze Dead Man’s trans-scalar assemblage and non-linearity through the ecocritical lenses of Jane Bennett’s “thing power” and Rob Nixon’s “slow violence” to comprehend how Dead Man promotes a structure to enable greater social and ecological care.

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