Colloquium | Eleni Palis

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 12:00pm


Eleni Palis

Possessive Fantasies, Filmic Space, and the Diegetic Quoting Screen

This talk comes from a larger project theorizing a new term, “film quotation,” to analyze the reuse of classical Hollywood film fragments—moving image clips ranging from a few frames to whole scenes—within post-classical American cinema. Here, I investigate how film quotation generates hitherto-untheorized cinematic space and therein, stages uniquely late-twentieth century anxieties about film rewatchability, possessive spectatorship, and cinematic place.

This cohort of films stage spectatorial pilgrimage into film quotation, featuring characters who visually or physically visit, inhabit, explode into or out of an embedded quotation. This semi-permeable onscreen screen (often a diegetic television or movie theater screen) is not a collapsed boundary or failed border, but rather reveals the screen’s attendant organizations of space, place, and network that have long existed as untapped opportunities in quotation. The mobile characters who take advantage of diegetic screen space embody Laura Mulvey’s “possessive spectator” onscreen, using film quotation to stage 1980s-early 90s technohistorical anxieties about home spectatorship, expanded exhibition, and increasing “possessability” film history. Rather than exceptional or fanciful imaginings, these diegetic possessive spectators metaphorically dramatize how retrospective spectators necessarily access, occupy, inhabit, and alter film history--especially in the wake of social and industrial upheaval.

Eleni Palis is a PhD candidate in the English Department, concentrating in Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation research focuses on the reappropriation of classical Hollywood film fragments in contemporary American cinema. She revised the Oxford Bibliographies Online entry for “Auteurism,” and her article “The Economics and Politics of Auteurism: Spike Lee and Do the Right Thing” is forthcoming from Cinema Journal.

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