D'Elia, Alberto (2014) That noir passage between Europe and America. The representation of criminals, law and social order in western cinema. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

A group of American and European films in the forties and fifties are characterised by a dark atmosphere and morbid fascination with crime and violent death. Normally populated by rootless characters who live as though suspended in an existential limbo, their narratives are pervaded by a sense of loss and displacement. Though these films were made mostly during the world war and its aftermath, they have left a permanent visual and cultural legacy, both in western and global cinema, related as they were to the transitory nature of metropolitan experience. Moreover, by breaking with previous national traditions of public representation of crime and sexual desire, they established cinema as a privileged locus for cultural criticism and debate about some of the moral and psychological consequences of modernity. Taking this as my point of departure, I analyse the relationship between Europe and America through the films’ construction of an intercultural visual dialogue, making the case that this gathers and condenses contradictions and ambivalences in the modern human development project. In particular I focus on two aspects of this dialogue: on the one hand - since almost every country struggles with America’s economic and cultural supremacy - the ambivalent image that America has in twentieth-century European debate about popular culture. On the other hand, I consider the importance of (visual) language in the relationship between enquiry, in films, into historical transformation, and the wider processes of social and cultural change. Finally, I claim that the lesson learned from this analysis should be used in contemporary sociological debate about the renewal of conceptual tools used to investigate the role of crime in our society.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Criminology and Sociology
Depositing User: Michael Debenham
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2015 13:20
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2015 13:20
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/1320

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