Cognitive stylistics approach to cinematic characterization

Taheri, Saeedeh (2018) Cognitive stylistics approach to cinematic characterization. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis deals with the cognitive process of cinematic character construal and explores the question of how narrative film viewers presumably understand characters and make impressions about them as a result of the interplay of different types of schema.

Based on the cognitive concept of schema (Barlett [1932] 1995), Speech Act Theory (Austin, 1962; Searle, 1969) and cognitivist film theory (Bordwell,1985), a cognitive framework, which is inscribed within the cognitive stylistics theories and analytical frameworks, is proposed for character impression formation. The model posits that viewers understand characters in terms of the interactions between three planes of background knowledge: 1. Social knowledge (knowledge of real-life people, social roles, and interpersonal relations), 2. Narrative film knowledge (knowledge of film narrative, style and techniques), 3. Pragmalinguistic knowledge (knowledge of linguistic and pragmatic norms. The focus of the linguistic plane is on Speech Act Theory).

This research argues that film draws on medium-specific, multimodal devices to tell the story and create characters. With regard to the multimodality of film discourse, this thesis suggests a toolkit for character creation and comprehension. The three planes of social, film and pragmalinguistic schemas and also the marked aspects of the suggested cinematic character creation toolkit are all applied to three art auteur films: The Piano Teacher (2001), Autumn Sonata (1987), and Ten (2001), whose comprehension is challenging for viewers Pragmalinguistic because of their deviations from the conventional norms of Hollywood cinema in terms of narrative, characterization, cinematic style and techniques. Methodologically, this analysis is informed by multimodal analysis (Kress and van Leeuwen, 1996), and multimodal transcription (Baldry and Thibault, 2006) in particular, which consider text as an ensemble of different communication modes all of which contribute to meaningmaking. Thus, this analysis presents a detailed account of viewers’ plausible understanding trajectory, and an explanation of linguistic and visual/cinematic strategies to narrative (as the context in which characters are created and developed), and particularly character creation within the scope of the films mentioned above.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures > PN1995.9.A-Z Other special topics, A-Z > PN1995.9.C36 Characters and characteristics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2018 14:52
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48

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