The Cinematic Sublime (Book)

Negative Pleasures, Structuring Absences

This academic reader intends to bridge the disciplines of aesthetics and film studies by focusing on cinematic sublimity. It is a collection of essays by contemporary film scholars and philosophers aimed at applying sublime aesthetics to various film topics and case studies.

Category: Film Studies


This interdisciplinary volume is dedicated to exploring the idea of the cinematic sublime by bringing together the disciplines of film studies and aesthetics to examine cinema and cinematic experience. Written by film scholars and philosophers with topics and case studies ranging from early cinema and classical Hollywood to avant-garde film and contemporary digital cinema, The Cinematic Sublime offers new and exciting insights into how cinema engages with traditional historical and aesthetic discourse. Original and wide-ranging, this volume is a useful resource for both post-graduate students and established scholars interested in the interrelations between film and philosophy.

Nathan Carroll is a professor in the Department of Communication, Theatre, and Art at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota where he teaches courses in film studies, media criticism and sublime aesthetics.


Acknowledgments vii

Foreword viii

Joan Hawkins

Introduction 1

Nathan Carroll

Part I: Sublime Spectatorship 9

1. Sublime Spectatorship on Tour: The Early British Scenic and the Quest for the Perfect View 10

Samantha Wilson

2. Stars Up Close: Celebrity, Ephemerality, and the Banal Sublime 24

Claire Sisco King

Part II: Staging Sublimity: “Presenting the Unpresentable” 39

3. Between Preservation and Disintegration in Decayed Cinema: The Uncanny and the Weird of the Sublime Archival Image in Hollis Frampton’s (nostalgia) (1971) and Bill Morrison’s Decasia (2002) 40

Kornelia Boczkowska

4. Negative Epiphanies and Sublime Emotion in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence 53

James Kendrick

Part III: Time, Memory, and History: Ruptures and Fragments 67

5. Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah and the Historical Sublime 68

Steve Ostovich

6. Jerry Lewis’s Holocaust and the Limits of Invisibility 85

Chris Dumas


Part IV: The Limits of Control: Sublime Cinemascapes 97

7. A Short History of the Long Take: Digital Cinema and the “Infinite Cut” 98

Nathan Carroll

8. Stalking the Sublime: Nature and Affect in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker 124

Robert Lee Jones

Part V: The Limits of Light: The Other(s) 141

9. Sublime Abject or Abject Sublime: Sublimation and Jouissance in Andrezj Żuławski’s Szamanka 142

Carolin Kirchner

10. The Fear of Beauty and the Beauty of Fear: The Sublime in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin 155

Kwasu David Tembo

Bibliography 174

Notes on the Contributors 189

Index 193

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