Friday, August 01, 2008

Speaking of medievalism ...

by J J Cohen

Richard Burt writes that his new book is out from Palgrave. Here is a blurb and some endorsements:

Medieval and Early Modern Film and Media contextualizes historical films in an innovative way--not only relating them not only to the history of cinema, but also to premodern and early modern media. This philological approach to the (pre)history of cinema engages both old media such as scrolls, illuminated manuscripts, the Bayeux Tapestry, and new digital media such as DVDs, HD DVDs, and computers. Burt examines the uncanny repetitions that now fragment films into successively released alternate cuts and extras (footnote tracks, audiocommentaries, and documentaries) that (re)structure and reframe historical films, thereby presenting new challenges to historicist criticism and film theory. With a double focus on recursive narrative frames and the cinematic paratexts of medieval and early modern film, this book calls our attention to strange, sometimes opaque phenomena in film and literary theory that have previously gone unrecognized.

“A marvelously rich and surprising book. Combining formal attentiveness with the giddy pleasures of the improbable detour, Burt's analysis of what he terms the ‘philological uncanny’ takes us from medieval illuminated manuscripts to digital media, from Shakespeare to spell-check, from the copyright page to the interpretive industry itself. Burt opens central, expansive questions about the logic of texts, about the character of historical time, even about the ongoing vexations of the academic unconscious.”—Christopher Pye, Professor of English, Williams College

“What if it was now possible to psychoanalyze our compulsive desire for historicism (old and new)? What if the arrival of the new media with its complex paratextual apparatus made legible the unconscious filmic techniques of contemporary literary critics? Burt’s astonishingly ambitious Medieval and Early Modern Film and Media makes just this argument, moving effortlessly between seemingly disparate fields (historicism, film studies, and digital technologies) to offer a symptomatic reading of the ‘historicist uncanny.’”--Julian Yates, author of Error, Misuse, Failure: Object Lessons from the English Renaissance

“This playful and lucid venture into the enduring popular appeal of the Middle Ages on film offers close readings of canonical works, but also brings refreshing energy and perspective to academic modes of critical reception. In this ground-breaking volume, Burt digs deep in the media history of medievalism, unearths the decomposing paratexts of cinematic representation, and confronts the uncanny middle-ages crisis of new historicism.”--Peter Krapp, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Irvine

“Mapping the transition from medieval and early modern media onto the transition from celluloid to digital cinema, Burt offers brilliant and very witty close readings of a wide variety of major historical films. This breakthrough contribution to media studies reveals a history that is much, much stranger than heretofore imagined.”--Bryan Reynolds, Professor of Drama, University of California, Irvine

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