Project at Hand
We will read texts of major writers associated
with the „suspense“ genre, situating our readings within the sociohistorical
contexts of the texts‘ production, dissemination, and „evaluation.“ We
will also avail ourselves of the modes of inquiry and critique that have
emerged from the fields of psychoanalysis, semiotics, Marxism, and other
radically materialist critical traditions, particularly those traditions
informed and transformed by sustained feminist interventions. From this
reading we might hope to develop a more sophisticated and engaged description
of the „suspense“ genre in particular and the politics of signification
and the larger cultural contests in which this genre is realized.
CLASSICAL GENRE THEORY
- Drama (Comedy/Tragedy)
SAMUEL R. DELANY’S THEORY OF GENRE
[focused on distinguishing science fiction from other genres]
For a breakdown of these components of Samuel R. Delany’s theory of genre, see Chapter Three of my book, Strategies of Deviance. I have digitalized this chapter and posted it in its entirety on the web. You can find it by pointing your browser at:
QUESTIONS ON GENRE
How to distinguish the following „genres“:
- readerly text/writerly text
- text of pleasure/text of jouissance [„bliss“]
What of Delany’s theory of genre can we adopt and how can
we adapt it as part of formulating a critical understanding of the „suspense“
What can we do with Barthes’s textual typologies? What happens
if we divorce them from specific genres?
Can we [re-]politicize Barthes’s writerly texts and texts
jouissance , in terms of the demystificational functions of
his earlier semiology, and even in terms of an unfixing of the subject
stabilized by Althusser’s ideological state apparatus?
What are the implications of expanding the scope of jouissance
to include certain affective peculiarities of certain works of suspense
fiction (the novels of Jim Thompson, for example)?
How to distinguish suspense as a textual genre/practice and
the „suspense“ film? Among the subsidiary issues this question raises there
1. The problem of film adaptations of suspense fictional
Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train vs.
Alfred Hitchcock’s „Strangers on a Train“
„Rear Window“ vs. Alfred Hitchcock’s „Rear Window“
Dorothy B. Hughes’s In a Lonely Place? vs. Nicholas Ray’s
„In a Lonely Place“>
Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley
vs. Plein Soleil
Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me, Deadly vs. X’s Kiss Me, Deadly
Jim Thompson’s Pop.1280 vs. Bernard Tavenier’s Coup de
Vera Caspary’s Laura vs. Otto Preminger’s „Laura“ vs.
Nico Nikolaidais’s Singapore
David Goodis’s Nightfall vs. Jacques Tourneur’s „Nightfall“
Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game vs. Wim Wenders Der
2. The resonances among the semantic histories and formations
of generic categories.
ROLAND BARTHES’S TEXTUAL TYPOLOGIES
IDEOLOGY OF REPRESENTATIONAL PRACTICES
Ideological State Apparatus
– myth vs. semiology
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