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Irredeemable: Céline, Extreme Cinemas, and the Opacity of Trauma

Bey-Rozet, Maxime (2020) Irredeemable: Céline, Extreme Cinemas, and the Opacity of Trauma. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines the legacy of French novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline in recent so-called “extreme cinemas.” It is structured around the concept of “opacity,” which signals the resistance to knowledge, clarity, and discursivity that extreme films and Céline’s novels have in common. This dissertation discusses the political implications of opacity, particularly as it pertains to representations of systemic and French historical trauma, and to what Leo Bersani has described as a “culture of redemption.” The first two chapters focus heavily on Céline, first by analyzing the formal and rhetorical similarities that exist between his novels and extreme films, and second by fleshing out what opacity entails in the specific case of Céline’s notoriously deplorable politics. The last two chapters focus on extreme films: Chapter 3 pairs I Stand Alone (1999, Gaspar Noé) and In My Skin (2002, Marina de Van) in a discussion of the systemic traumas of, respectively, French post-Occupation patriarchy and corporate culture. Chapter 4 discusses Caché (2005, Michael Haneke) and the massacre of 17 October, 1961, and argues that historical opacity and uncertainty can be rehabilitated into a position of critical introspection. The dissertation ends with a reconsideration of the aesthetic tradition of extreme cinemas, and concludes on the implications, in film and literature, of the shift away from victims of trauma, onto perpetrators instead.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bey-Rozet, Maximembeyrozet@gmail.commab413
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPettersen,
Committee MemberCondee,
Committee MemberLowenstein,
Committee MemberReeser,
Date: 16 September 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 May 2020
Approval Date: 16 September 2020
Submission Date: 12 June 2020
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 167
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Film Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Film Studies; Trauma; Redemption; Comparative; France
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 13:28
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2022 05:15


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