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Shifting Approaches

Sayad, Cecilia (2013) Shifting Approaches. In: Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference 2013, March 2013, Chicago, IL. (Unpublished) (KAR id:36383)

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The general idea of the author relies on a set of conditions that prove unrealizable in practice. In its so-called romantic form, authorship refers to the effective communication of an individual’s inner state; an individual that is moreover perceived as unique and capable of speaking its mind and relaying its life experiences. This presumably traditional conception of the author presupposes control, authority, originality and self-expression. Needless to say, such an understanding presupposes also the “metaphysics of substance” discussed by Judith Butler—the idea of a subject bearing an essence that predates its insertion in society. This essentializable authorial subject has been criticized by both structuralists, who see the author as determined by a set of structures, and poststructuralists, for whom binaries such as nature and culture are linguistic constructs. For the latter, the idea of a subject’s stifled or culturally domesticated essence would be nothing but a fantasy, and the said author a myth that could never come true.

But what if the author would instead be defined by its struggle to achieve the aforementioned attributes? What if we see it as ephemeral, as constantly quoting, as at once evading and seeking self-exposure? This paper explores the ways in which performance theory’s emphasis on process and the fluidity of identity formation allows for an understanding of authorship that privileges the drama of artistic and communicative processes rather than the achievement of control, originality and self-expression. Where poststructuralist thought saw the author as absent, my proposed concept of performing authorship stresses the textual traces of its physical presence. Studies by Timothy Corrigan (A Cinema Without Walls), Rosanna Maule (Beyond Auteurism) and Dudley Andrew (“The Unauthorized Auteur Today”), among others, have sought to bring the auteur back to the picture through considerations about the contexts that shape their practices. But through the notion of performing authorship I shift the focus from the extrafilmic (the realm of the production, promotion and commercialization of films) to the filmic (authorial self-inscription). It is of course not just the inscription but also the nature of the represented processes that shows what the discussion of authorship has to gain from notions of ephemerality, imitation, exteriority, and masking.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: film authorship, performance studies, presence, self-inscription, corporeality
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Cecilia Sayad
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2013 12:23 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Sayad, Cecilia:
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