Monday, August 8, 2022

ENG 102 Resources: August 8, 2022

Abdelfatah, Rund, et al. "The Mystery of Inflation." Throughline (August 4, 2022) ["Gas. Meat. Flights. Houses. The price of things have gone up by as much as nine percent since last year: the same amount of money gets you less stuff. It's inflation: a concept that's easy to feel but hard to understand. Its causes are complex, but it isn't some kind of naturally-occurring phenomenon — and neither are the ways in which governments try to fight it. This week, we look at the history of inflation in the U.S., how we've responded, and who pays the price."]

Biagetti, Samuel. "Nag Hammadi Library and the Gnostic Gospels." Historiansplaining (August 1, 2022) ["The secretive Gnostic stream of Christianity, which taught a radically different metaphysics and spiritual cosmology from "orthodox" doctrine in the first four hundred years of the church, was largely lost to history, until 1945, when a camel-herder in a remote part of Egypt stumbled upon an old ceremic jar with 13 massive books containing 52 ancient Gnostic texts. We consider what the so-called "Nag Hammadi LIbrary," which may have been hidden in the desert to protect it from destruction, reveals about the origins and importance of the Gnostics' secret teachings."]

Brown, Vincent. Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War. Belknap Press, 2022. ["In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended the domain of capitalist agriculture, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled continuously to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica (then called Coromantees) organized to throw off that yoke by violence. Their uprising—which became known as Tacky’s Revolt—featured a style of fighting increasingly familiar today: scattered militias opposing great powers, with fighters hard to distinguish from noncombatants. It was also part of a more extended borderless conflict that spread from Africa to the Americas and across the island. Even after it was put down, the insurgency rumbled throughout the British Empire at a time when slavery seemed the dependable bedrock of its dominion. That certitude would never be the same, nor would the views of black lives, which came to inspire both more fear and more sympathy than before. Tracing the roots, routes, and reverberations of this event across disparate parts of the Atlantic world, Vincent Brown offers us a superb geopolitical thriller. Tacky’s Revolt expands our understanding of the relationship between European, African, and American history, as it speaks to our understanding of wars of terror today."]

Eggert, Brian. "Titane." Deep Focus Review (October 3, 2021) ["In the first images of Titane, the camera lingers on engine parts shot like sweaty appendages, dripping with perspiration and vibrating orgasmically with the motor’s hum. The metal shimmers with grease and droplets of oil, and its curves look almost fleshy in the way they bend and give way to the rolling shapes in the undercarriage. French director Julia Ducournau films these inhuman auto parts like erotica, exploring the connection between bodies and automobiles in ways not attempted since David Cronenberg’s controversial 1996 film, Crash, about the relationship between the little death and the death drive. The link between sexuality and cars has been there for a long while. After all, why do they call a mechanic’s workspace a body shop? Consciously or not, motorheads make these connections as well. Car magazines and calendars pair bikini-clad women with muscle cars and hot rods, coupling sex and automobiles in literal and figurative terms. Ducournau’s film considers how the male gaze creates this strange relationship of images and takes the next logical step. The result is something wildly original, brutally visceral, oddly funny and tender, and singular in its vision."]

Goh, Robbie B.H. Christopher Nolan: Filmmaker and Philosopher. Bloomsbury Academic, 2021. ["Christopher Nolan is the writer and director of Hollywood blockbusters like The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and also of arthouse films like Memento and Inception. Underlying his staggering commercial success however, is a darker sensibility that questions the veracity of human knowledge, the allure of appearance over reality and the latent disorder in contemporary society. This appreciation of the sinister owes a huge debt to philosophy and especially modern thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida. Taking a thematic approach to Nolan's oeuvre, Robbie Goh examines how the director's postmodern inclinations manifest themselves in non-linearity, causal agnosticism, the threat of social anarchy and the frequent use of the mise en abyme, while running counter to these are narratives of heroism, moral responsibility and the dignity of human choice. For Goh, Nolan is a 'reluctant postmodernist'. His films reflect the cynicism of the modern world, but with their representation of heroic moral triumphs, they also resist it."]

Lowenstein, Adam. Horror Film and Otherness. Columbia University Press, 2022. ["What do horror films reveal about social difference in the everyday world? Criticism of the genre often relies on a dichotomy between monstrosity and normality, in which unearthly creatures and deranged killers are metaphors for society’s fear of the “others” that threaten the “normal.” The monstrous other might represent women, Jews, or Blacks, as well as Indigenous, queer, poor, elderly, or disabled people. The horror film’s depiction of such minorities can be sympathetic to their exclusion or complicit in their oppression, but ultimately, these images are understood to stand in for the others that the majority dreads and marginalizes. Adam Lowenstein offers a new account of horror and why it matters for understanding social otherness. He argues that horror films reveal how the category of the other is not fixed. Instead, the genre captures ongoing metamorphoses across “normal” self and “monstrous” other. This “transformative otherness” confronts viewers with the other’s experience—and challenges us to recognize that we are all vulnerable to becoming or being seen as the other. Instead of settling into comforting certainties regarding monstrosity and normality, horror exposes the ongoing struggle to acknowledge self and other as fundamentally intertwined. Horror Film and Otherness features new interpretations of landmark films by directors including Tobe Hooper, George A. Romero, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Stephanie Rothman, Jennifer Kent, Marina de Van, and Jordan Peele. Through close analysis of their engagement with different forms of otherness, this book provides new perspectives on horror’s significance for culture, politics, and art."]

Patell, Cyrus R.K. Lucasfilm: Filmmaking, Philosophy, and the Star Wars Universe. Bloomsbury Academic, 2021. ["From A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker and beyond, this book offers the first complete assessment and philosophical exploration of the Star Wars universe. Lucasfilm examines the ways in which these iconic films were shaped by global cultural mythologies and world cinema, as well as philosophical ideas from the fields of aesthetics and political theory, and now serve as a platform for public philosophy. Cyrus R. K. Patell also looks at how this ever-expanding universe of cultural products and enterprises became a global brand and asks: can a corporate entity be considered a “filmmaker and philosopher”? More than any other film franchise, Lucasfilm's Star Wars has become part of the global cultural imagination. The new generation of Lucasfilm artists is full of passionate fans of the Star Wars universe, who have now been given the chance to build on George Lucas's oeuvre. Within these pages, Patell explores what it means for films and their creators to become part of cultural history in this unprecedented way."]

Resina, Joan Ramon. Luchino Visconti: Filmmaker and Philosopher. Bloomsbury Academic, 2022. ["Luchino Visconti (1906-1976) was one of Europe's most prestigious filmmakers, who rose to prominence as part of the Italian neo-realist movement, alongside contemporaries Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini. Famous for his elegant lifestyle, as friend of Jean Renoir and Coco Chanel amongst others, his vibrant technicolour dramas are also known for their decadence and stunning display of aesthetic mastery and sensory pleasure. Looking beyond this colourful façade, however, Resina explores the philosophical implications of decadence with a particular focus on three films from the late phase in Visconti's production, Damned (1969), Death in Venice (1971), and Ludwig (1972). From the incestuous relationship between decadence and power to decadence as an outcome of straining toward formal perfection, Resina uncovers the unity and philosophical cohesiveness of these films that deal with different subjects and historical periods. Reading these films and their decadence in light of the time of filming and Visconti's own sense of cultural doom, Resina further demonstrates the relevance of Visconti's philosophy today and how much they still have to say to our contemporary situation."]

Schauer, Frederick. The Proof: Uses of Evidence in Law, Politics, and Everything Else. Belknap Press, 2022. ["In a world awash in “fake news,” where public figures make unfounded assertions as a matter of course, a preeminent legal theorist ranges across the courtroom, the scientific laboratory, and the insights of philosophers to explore the nature of evidence and show how it is credibly established."]

Sinnerbrink, Robert. Terence Malick: Filmmaker and Philosopher. Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. ["Many critics have approached Terrence Malick's work from a philosophical perspective, arguing that his films express philosophy through cinema. With their remarkable images of nature, poetic voiceovers, and meditative reflections, Malick's cinema certainly invites philosophical engagement. In Terrence Malick: Filmmaker and Philosopher, Robert Sinnerbrink takes a different approach, exploring Malick's work as a case of cinematic ethics: films that evoke varieties of ethical experience, encompassing existential, metaphysical, and religious perspectives. Malick's films are not reducible to a particular moral position or philosophical doctrine; rather, they solicit ethically significant forms of experience, encompassing anxiety and doubt, wonder and awe, to questioning and acknowledgment, through aesthetic engagement and poetic reflection. Drawing on a range of thinkers and approaches from Heidegger and Cavell, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, to phenomenology and moral psychology Sinnerbrink explores how Malick's films respond to the problem of nihilism the loss of conviction or belief in prevailing forms of value and meaning and the possibility of ethical transformation through cinema: from self-transformation in our relations with others to cultural transformation via our attitudes towards towards nature and the world. Sinnerbrink shows how Malick's later films, from The Tree of Life to Voyage of Time, provide unique opportunities to explore cinematic ethics in relation to the crisis of belief, the phenomenology of love, and film's potential to invite moral transformation."]

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