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A Phantom Experience: Traumatic Embodiment in Temporal Body Horror Cinema

Parrish, Jordan (2023) A Phantom Experience: Traumatic Embodiment in Temporal Body Horror Cinema. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation defines a new subgenre of body horror cinema by engaging with the temporal latency associated with traumatic experience. By working through the intricacies of traumatic experience, temporal body horror views time uniquely as an integral part of the body, though one that draws attention to the body’s overarching independence from the subject inhabiting it. Trauma takes up residence in a body when an event occurs but isn’t experienced. It creates a phantom experience with uncertain origins that I discuss in films from around the globe which depict this structure in different unsettling ways. Within scholarship, my project’s intervention bridges the corporeal turn in film studies, horror studies, and the cinematic philosophy of time. It moves attention from the film spectator’s body to the film characters’ bodies themselves in the first field, posits an experiential level at which horror films create their associated affect in the second that differs from its common spectatorial approach, and creates new understandings about the embodied but incorporeal sensation of time for the third. In these ways, the project argues that time functions as much as a bodily organ as the physical viscera most often associated with the body horror subgenre. At a structural level, it constructs a conceptual map where each chapter classifies a different variation of traumatic experience that a given director investigates throughout their filmographies. In the process, each chapter discusses a type of time, a horror figure, and external symptoms of the experience it focuses on. In chapter one, traumatic structure appears in the form of cheating death in Carl Dreyer’s films; in chapter two, it takes on a unique bodily experience in the films of David Cronenberg called body-centric fusion; in chapter three, it appears as a paradoxical form of material emptiness in the films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa; and in chapter four, it’s the sensation of being possessed by a ghost in the films of Takashi Shimizu.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Parrish, Jordanjgp13@pitt.edujgp130000-0001-6204-8737
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLowenstein, Adamalowen@pitt.edualowen
Committee MemberHorton, Zacharyz.horton@pitt.eduz.horton
Committee MemberWaldron, Jenniferjwaldron@pitt.edujwaldron
Committee MemberExley, Charlesexley@pitt.eduexley
Date: 6 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 July 2023
Approval Date: 6 September 2023
Submission Date: 22 July 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 194
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Film Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Body horror, Phenomenology, Philosophy, Time, Trauma
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2023 19:14
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2023 19:14


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