Cannot believe that it is September already. It’s ok – as it has always been my favorite month. Always the start of new classes, new faces, new projects… or perhaps the fact that my birthday, my mother’s and my youngest daughter’s birthday are this month (actually, they share theirs, and mine’s the day before!).
I am enrolled in my last formal class of my university education this semester, so it is a momentous occasion. I must admit, one that makes me a little nervous. It seems that I have been in a classroom, listening to lectures and preparing papers, presentations etc forever. Although I still have my comprehensive exams in January, and a thesis to write, the next time I have to sit through a class, it may very well be my own (wishful thinking perhaps? lol). I am taking a class on “The Figure” at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim’s School of Cinema. Below is the course description. I am a bit nervous to delve into the course material, as at the moment, I only have a layman’s idea of what “the figure in film” means. I am looking forward to though, so it should be good.
FMST 803/2 Seminar in Film and Moving Image Theory
Special Topic: The figure in film.
In aesthetic theory related to the visual art disciplines, figuration denotes the act of representing through figures, that is, shapes or forms of bodies or objects. In rhetoric and literary theory, figuration refers to the use of words to connote meanings that deviate from regular use and is closer to visual than verbal types of expression. Film scholars and practitioners have recurrently been drawn to the term ³figure,² whether as an aesthetic and formal element of films, a rhetorical strategy of cinematic representation or address, a metaphorical representation of the human body, or an allegorical dimension of film discourse and of the audiovisual culture in general. Yet the term keeps eluding a strict definition.
This seminar examines the figure in the cinema as an element that brings together the conceptual and sensorial components and activities involved in filmmaking as an artistic praxis and blurs the distinction between linguistic and visual discourse. The course investigates the ways in which figuration-directly or indirectly-has been used as an analytic approach to film and as a specific strategy of representation in a number of filmic and audio-visual practices.
The seminar is structured into three parts. The first part illustrates the relations that the figure establishes between cinematic techniques and linguistic codes, different artistic practices and theories, various phases of the filmmaking process. The second part of the course examines the process of figuration in relation to a crucial issue in contemporary aesthetic theory and philosophy: the status and the function of the artwork in a postmodern culture that rejects totalizing or transcendental notions of representation and within an audio-visual environment that is ingrained in the virtual system of new media and information technology. In the third part of the seminar students will apply the notion of figure to a case study of their own choice, which may be a film or a filmic corpus, an audio-visual form or style, a theoretical approach to film. The project will be presented in class and further developed in an essay paper.