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Bodies in Suspense

Time and Affect in Cinema

2017
Author:

Alanna Thain

Bodies in Suspense

How can cinema make us live time?

According to Alanna Thain, suspense films allow us to experience the relation between two bodies: that of the film and that of the viewer. Bodies in Suspense presents a powerful new way to think through postdigital cinema and the affective turn in critical theory, arguing that the “body in time” enables us to experience the temporal dimension of the body directly.

A significant contribution to contemporary cultural theory, to film studies, and to the philosophy of time, Bodies in Suspense connects the cinematic experience of time to its production of the body in a way that no previous theorist has done—by bringing together the study of temporality and affect theory.

Todd McGowan, author of Out of Time: Desire in Atemporal Cinema

Bodies in Suspense presents a powerful new way to think through postdigital cinema and the affective turn in critical theory. According to Alanna Thain, suspense films allow us to experience the relation between two bodies: that of the film and that of the viewer. Through the “time machine” of suspense, film form, gender, genre, and spectatorship are revealed in innovative and different ways. These films not only engage us directly in ethical concerns, but also provide a key for understanding corporeal power in the digital era.

Offering a new framework for understanding cinematic suspense, Bodies in Suspense argues that the “body in time” enables us to experience the temporal dimension of the body directly. This is the first book to link two contemporary frames of analysis: questions of cinematic temporality and contemporary affect theory. Thain conducts close readings of influential suspense films by Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Christian Marclay, Rian Johnson, and Lou Ye, and sets forth a compelling new theory of cinema, reading for the productivity of the “crime of time” that stages the duplicity of cinematic bodies. Through these films that foreground doubled characters and looping, Thain explores Gilles Deleuze’s claim that “the direct time-image is the phantom which has always haunted cinema.”

A vital new addition to film theory, corporeality and affect theory, feminist theory, and the philosophy of time—and one of the first books to explore David Lynch’s Hollywood trilogy—Bodies in Suspense asks us to pay attention, above all, to the ways in which the condition of spectatorship creates a doubling sensation with important philosophical repercussions.

Bodies in Suspense

Alanna Thain is associate professor of English and world cinemas and director of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at McGill University.

Bodies in Suspense

A significant contribution to contemporary cultural theory, to film studies, and to the philosophy of time, Bodies in Suspense connects the cinematic experience of time to its production of the body in a way that no previous theorist has done—by bringing together the study of temporality and affect theory.

Todd McGowan, author of Out of Time: Desire in Atemporal Cinema

Working in the fold between two 'turns' in cinema studies—the ‘corporeal turn’ and the ‘affective turn’—Thain wraps the field around a new concept: ‘immediation’. Original, erudite, and conceptually acute, Bodies in Suspense is necessary reading for those interested in film theory, media studies, and the philosophy of the image.

Brian Massumi, author of Semblance and Event: Activist Philosophy and the Occurrent Arts

Bodies in Suspense

Contents
Introduction: Time Crimes, or Feeling Difference Made
1. A Free Replay: Vertigo and the Spiral of Time
2. Into the Folds: David Lynch’s Hollywood Trilogy
3. Suzhou River and the Movement-Vision of Love
4. Time Takings: Suspended Reanimations and the Pulse of Postdigital Cinema
Conclusion: Affective Atmospherics and Living Time in Cinema
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index