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Representations of Grief and Mourning in modern European and American cinema

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The nineteenth century saw widespread experimentation in the sciences, enhancing academic knowledge and capturing the public imagination. Yet there were many who saw positivism as a threat to other ways of seeing. Spiritualism and the evolution of the moving image both responded to the attempt to reconcile science and metaphysics, and offered succour to a timeless human desire; to witness images of things not physically present. This paper charts the rise of mediumship in Britain, America and France, and the concurrent refinement of cinema, showing how the desire for presence in absence met the public need to believe, offering a space for minority perspectives, and throwing light on one of film’s essential genres; the cinema of mourning.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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