Réka M. Cristian is Associate Professor at the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Szeged, Hungary, where she teaches American Studies, modern American literature and culture, gender and postcolonialism, film theory and semiotics. She is the author of Cultural Vistas and Sites of Identity. Essays on Literature, Film, and American Studies (2012) and of the forthcoming The Semiotic Chiasmus of Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee and co-author with Zoltán Dragon of Encounters of the Filmic Kind: Guidebook to Film Theories (2008). She is also the founding editor AMERICANA – E-Journal of American Studies in Hungary and its AMERICANA eBooks division.
Zoltán Dragon is senior assistant professor at the Department of American Studies, University of Szeged, Hungary. His fields of research are digital culture and theories, film theory, film adaptation, and psychoanalytic theory. He is the author of The Spectral Body: Aspects of the Cinematic Oeuvre of István Szabó (2006), Encounters of the Filmic Kind: Guidebook to Film Theories (co-authored with Réka M. Cristian, 2008), Tennessee Williams Hollywoodba megy, avagy a dráma és film dialógusa [Tennessee Williams Goes to Hollywood, or the Dialogue of Drama and Film] (in Hungarian, 2011), and A Practical Guide to Writing a Successful Thesis in the Humanities (2012). He is founding editor of AMERICANA – E-Journal of American Studies in Hungary and the publishing label AMERICANA eBooks, and head of the Digital Culture & Theories Research Group at his home university.
I first saw this work in the form of a full and detailed draft. I was impressed by the boldness of the ideas, the attempt to integrate and work with different theoretical positions and the quite extraordinary reading of the films of István Szabó. There was clearly a powerful and creative and original intelligence at work. A further draft accomplished one important thing that had been missing from the first one – the direct analysis of the visual material and its contribution to the overall narrative and theoretical framework.
The work employs a psychoanalytic framework with some key concepts such as ‘the phantom’ drawn from the work of Torok and Abraham. This theory is fairly well known but it has not, to my knowledge, been used in any extensive way in the analysis of film texts before. Zoltan also makes reference to Freud and uses some Lacanian ideas in his analysis at the level of the visual. These multiple theoretical references are not inconsistent; they are finely judged and are most productive. Theory is never used as a grid to be imposed on the material. There is a fine balance between theory and textual analysis that is hard to achieve, but it is successful here.
I think that the position that Zoltan Dragon has forged for himself and from which he writes, is a highly original and interesting one. He has been most successful in developing his framework in relation to Szabó’s oeuvre which he knows in the greatest detail. His readings of that oeuvre are rich and powerful and will provoke considerable debate in the world of film studies and also of psychoanalytical studies.
Parveen Adams, Core Teaching Faculty, London Consortium