Closed Circuits: Screening Narrative Surveillance

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

The recent uproar over NSA dataveillance can obscure the fact that surveillance has been part of our lives for decades. And cinema has long been aware of its power—and potential for abuse.

In Closed Circuits, Garrett Stewart analyzes a broad spectrum of films, from M and Rear Window through The Conversation to Déjà Vu, Source Code, and The Bourne Legacy, in which cinema has articulated—and performed—the drama of inspection’s unreturned look. While mainstays of the thriller, both the act and the technology of surveillance, Stewart argues, speak to something more foundational in the very work of cinema. The shared axis of montage and espionage—with editing designed to draw us in and make us forget the omnipresence of the narrative camera—extends to larger questions about the politics of an oversight regime that is increasingly remote and robotic. To such a global technopticon, one telltale response is a proliferating mode of digitally enhanced “surveillancinema.”
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About the author

Garrett Stewart is the James O. Freedman Professor of Letters in the Department of English at the University of Iowa and the author of numerous books on fiction and film.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Jan 30, 2015
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9780226201351
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Film & Video
Literary Criticism / General
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
Performing Arts / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Garrett Stewart begins The Deed of Reading with a memory of his first hesitant confrontation, as a teenager, with poetic density. In that early verbal challenge he finds one driving force of literature: to make language young again in its surprise, coming alive in each new event of reading. But what exactly happens in the textual encounter to make literary phrasing resonate so deeply with readers?

To take the measure of literary writing, The Deed of Reading convenes diverse philosophic commentary on the linguistics of literature, with stress on the complementary work of Stanley Cavell and Giorgio Agamben. Sympathetic to recent ventures in form-attentive analysis but resisting an emphasis on so-called surface reading, Stewart explores not some new formalism but the internal pressures of language in formation, registering the verbal infrastructure of literary prose as well as verse. In this mode of "contextual" reading, the context is language itself. Literary phrasing, tapping the speech act’s own generative pulse, emerges as a latent philosophy of language in its own right, whereby human subjects, finding no secure place to situate themselves within language, settle for its taking place in, through, and between them.

Stewart watches and hears this dynamics of wording played out in dozens of poems and novels over two centuries of English literary production—from Wordsworth and Shelley to Browning and Hopkins, from Poe and Dickens through George Eliot, Conrad, James, and on to Toni Morrison. The Deed of Reading offers a revisionary contribution to the ethic of verbal attention in the grip of "deep reading."

No film critic has ever been as influential—or as beloved— as Roger Ebert. Over more than four decades, he built a reputation writing reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times and, later, arguing onscreen with rival Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel and later Richard Roeper about the movies they loved and loathed. But Ebert went well beyond a mere “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” Readers could always sense the man behind the words, a man with interests beyond film and a lifetime’s distilled wisdom about the larger world. Although the world lost one of its most important critics far too early, Ebert lives on in the minds of moviegoers today, who continually find themselves debating what he might have thought about a current movie.

The Great Movies IV is the fourth—and final—collection of Roger Ebert’s essays, comprising sixty-two reviews of films ranging from the silent era to the recent past. From films like The Cabinet of Caligari and Viridiana that have been considered canonical for decades to movies only recently recognized as masterpieces to Superman, The Big Lebowski, and Pink Floyd: The Wall, the pieces gathered here demonstrate the critical acumen seen in Ebert’s daily reviews and the more reflective and wide-ranging considerations that the longer format allowed him to offer. Ebert’s essays are joined here by an insightful foreword by film critic Matt Zoller Seitz, the current editor-in-chief of the official Roger Ebert website, and a touching introduction by Chaz Ebert.

A fitting capstone to a truly remarkable career, The Great Movies IV will introduce newcomers to some of the most exceptional movies ever made, while revealing new insights to connoisseurs as well.
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