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Do Critics Need Authors?

Sayad, Cecilia (2014) Do Critics Need Authors? In: Critica 2.0, 18-19 February 2014, Bologna, Italy. (Unpublished) (KAR id:42007)

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The history of film criticism has been partly informed by considerations about cinematic authorship. The current crisis in criticism may result from the proliferation of new forms of critical writing and venues for movie reviews, but the challenges posed by the transformations that came with the digital era do nothing but recontextualize a “crisis” we can trace back to the early to mid-20th century. Concerns about the effects of a presumed democratization of film criticism raise the same issues about the critic’s authority, reach and function that the category confronted when debating the figure of the film author.

While the politique des auteurs used the idea of filmmakers as self-expressing artists to legitimize the aesthetic value of film, by extension validating the cultural status of the critic, the general skepticism about authorship impacted the critic in two ways. On the one hand, it gave him or her more authority, taking the attribution of meaning away from the author and assigning it to the critic. In that sense, the transition to auteur structuralism in the late sixties and the subsequent poststructuralist approaches replaced the authority of the director with that of the critic, who had in any case always been responsible for discovering, electing or constructing the author. In other words, where before the critic was supposed to bring to the surface a creator who preceded the text, subsequent movements turned the author into a critical construct. On the other hand, the philosophical disavowing of authorship applies as much to the author as to the critic: both parties are equally affected by the skepticism about agency, language’s ability to express a worldview, the control over the meaning and the final version of an authored work.

The persistence of both the critic and the author in the contemporary experience of film calls for an examination of how these two figures have informed each other in the past decades. The current rhetoric of crisis in criticism posits not the director, but the non-specialized critic as threat. Yet the filmmaker’s discourse is also a competing voice, now that it is made more easily available through Twitter, DVD commentary, and films’ dedicated webpages. This paper considers the extent to which critic and author at once validate and challenge each other.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: film criticism, digital, internet, authorship, cahiers du cinema, auteurism, politique des auteurs, cult criticism, camp criticism
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: 28 Jul 2014 17:19 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2021 12:56 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Sayad, Cecilia:
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