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Seeing Things

Seeing Things: From Shakespeare to Pixar

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 192
  • Book Info
    Seeing Things
    Book Description:

    Alan Ackerman charts the dynamic history of interactions between showing and knowing inSeeing Things, a richly interdisciplinary study which illuminates changing modes of perception and modern representational media.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9652-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Seeing Things
    (pp. 3-20)

    My approach to seeing things is naive. I want to believe: that Michelangelo’s rebellious slave will burst his marble bands; that an open window’s radiant light inspires Caravaggio’s St Matthew; that Pixar’s pixellated toys break and repair. I like to think that when a person leaves the screen or stage he goes into another room or into a landscape glimpsed through a closing door, or when the camera cuts to a listener in a conversation that she is actually reacting to what her partner said. At the same time, I am sceptical, distrustful of shadows and hints of the unseen,...

  5. 1 A Spirit of Giving in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    (pp. 21-36)

    The history of drama in modernity is bound up with continual, and increasingly intense, negotiations between the self and the concrete, external world of objects. In the early modern context ofA Midsummer Night’s Dream, thingsserve as visible material tokens of feeling, objects through which spiritual and earthly goods are exchanged and conveyed. The vexation of Egeus in the first scene ofA Midsummer Night’s Dreamis expressed in a list of those items that Lysander has given to his daughter: ‘bracelets of thy hair, rings, gauds, conceits, / Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats’ (1.1.33–4). The objects in themselves...

  6. 2 Visualizing Hamlet’s Ghost: The Theatrical Spirit of Modern Subjectivity
    (pp. 37-64)

    Plays have always represented a reality that is invisible, whether psychological, biological, metaphysical, or theological. A key problem for the drama since Shakespeare has been to represent or express human interiority on the stage. Understanding what is meant by interiority, however, is also, more generally, a historical problem. The premise of this chapter is that a widespread re-imagining of the subject in the early decades of the nineteenth century is fundamental to what we think of today as the ‘modern’ drama. This period, often characterized as Romantic, sees a reinvestment in notions of the spirit and quasi-theological ways of thinking,...

  7. 3 Samuel Beckett’s spectres du noir: The Being of Painting and the Flatness of Film
    (pp. 65-96)

    In charting a history of ‘seeing things’ in modernity, I have focused in the central chapters of this book on two crucial nodal points, the first being the coalescence of diverse readings ofHamletaround the problem of visualizing human interiority and representing that vision in theatrical terms.Hamletbecomes the key text through which Romantic and post- Romantic audiences explored and enacted newly fluid and theatrical models of subjectivity. In the present chapter, I turn to Samuel Beckett ’sFilm, his art criticism, and many of his other works, to question modernism’s collapse of the self into the materiality...

  8. 4 The Spirit of Toys: Resurrection, Redemption, and Consumption in Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Beyond
    (pp. 97-120)

    The history of ‘seeing things’ that I have described so far, from Shakespeare to Beckett , has illustrated significant changes in the relation of modern selves to the material reality of things. In the contemporary context of the computer-animatedToy Storymovies, things seem to take on a life of their own. They have become both the stuff of identity and completely dematerialized, collapsingres extensaandres cogitans. As digital creations, theirs is a virtual reality, without even the trace of an image on celluloid, though in spin-off forms they are also more – or less – than digital. Representing this...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 121-140)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 141-152)
  11. Index
    (pp. 153-169)