Impersonal Enunciation, or the Place of Film

Christian Metz. Translated with an introduction by Cormac Deane. afterword by Dana Polan

Columbia University Press

Impersonal Enunciation, or the Place of Film

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Pub Date: February 2016

ISBN: 9780231173674

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Impersonal Enunciation, or the Place of Film

Christian Metz. Translated with an introduction by Cormac Deane. afterword by Dana Polan

Columbia University Press

Christian Metz is best known for applying Saussurean theories of semiology to film analysis. In the 1970s, he used Sigmund Freud's psychology and Jacques Lacan's mirror theory to explain the popularity of cinema. In this final book, Metz uses the concept of enunciation to articulate how films "speak" and explore where this communication occurs, offering critical direction for theorists who struggle with the phenomena of new media.

If a film frame contains another frame, which frame do we emphasize? And should we consider this staging an impersonal act of enunciation? Consulting a range of genres and national trends, Metz builds a novel theory around the placement and subjectivity of screens within screens, which pulls in—and forces him to reassess—his work on authorship, film language, and the position of the spectator. Metz again takes up the linguistic and theoretical work of Benveniste, Genette, Casetti, and Bordwell, drawing surprising conclusions that presage current writings on digital media. Metz's analysis enriches work on cybernetic emergence, self-assembly, self-reference, hypertext, and texts that self-produce in such a way that the human element disappears. A critical introduction by Cormac Deane bolsters the connection between Metz's findings and nascent digital-media theory, emphasizing Metz's keen awareness of the methodological and philosophical concerns we wrestle with today.
Metz's generous personality is captured well here, something that no other English translation has accomplished. It is both an extension of Metz's path-breaking work in bringing the concepts and methods of linguistics and psychoanalysis to the study of film, and the articulation of fundamentally new directions in his thought. D. N. Rodowick, University of Chicago
At long last, Christian Metz's final book, Impersonal Enunciation, is available in English, expertly translated by Cormac Deane. Metz's non-deictic, reflexive theory of enunciation, in which the film text continually references itself, constitutes the culmination of his lifelong semiotic analysis of the cinema. Warren Buckland, author of The Cognitive Semiotics of Film
In this splendid new translation.... Metz shines through, avoiding jargon, using richly illustrative examples, and writing with a persuasive voice.Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly
Metz returns to and develops the question of what speaks in the moving image: code, or something else. In meticulous and enlightening readings of films, television shows, and changing ways of watching them, Metz's posthumous text is a true ghost in the machine, a revenant who reopens many of the arguments we thought were closed and makes audiovisual media matter, once more, in every sense of the word Sean Cubitt, Goldsmiths, University of London
The moments of poetry, wit, and charming cinephilia scattered throughout make this work as engaging as it is enlightening.... Essential. CHOICE
Acknowledgments
Translator's Introduction
Part I: Humanoid Enunciation
1. Humanoid Enunciation
Part II: Some Landscapes of Enunciation (A Guided Tour)
2. The Voice of Address in the Image: The Look to Camera
3. The Voice of Address Outside the Image: Related Sounds
4. Written Modes of Address
5. Secondary Screens, or Squaring the Rectangle
6. Mirrors
7. "Exposing the Apparatus"
8. Film(s) Within Film
9. Subjective Images, Subjective Sounds, "Point of View"
10. The I-voice and Related Sounds
11. The Oriented Objective System: Enunciation and Style
12. "Neutral" (?) Images and Sounds
Part III: A Walk in the Clouds (Taking Theoretical Flight)
13. (Taking Theoretical Flight)
Afterword, by Dana Polan
Notes
On the Shelf: Works Cited
Index

Read the chapter, "Humanoid Enunciation":

Winner, 2016 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

About the Author

Christian Metz (1931–1993) is also the author of Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema; The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema; and Language and Cinema.