Stress fractures : loss and emotion in the recent Irish cinema

  • Jennie Margethe Carlsten

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The prevailing view of contemporary Irish cinema is predicated on assumptions about the nature and development of a national film culture. The most basic of these is that there has been a fundamental shift in the direction of Irish filmmaking, a shift away from the bold aesthetics and radical filmmaking of the 1970s and 1980s, towards a more commercial, and less meaningful, type of cinema. In fact, the recent Irish cinema is more formally and thematically complex, and has more social and cultural relevance, than the prevailing view suggests. This dissertation looks at Irish cinema in terms of how the narrative films of the last fifteen years treat the representation of emotion; specifically, the ways the films represent and engage with the emotions associated with loss. The dissertation begins with a review of the contemporary critical perspectives on the recent Irish cinema, and of the pertinent critical debates around the notion of national cinema. The dissertation then places these debates about Irish national cinema within the context of emotion theory, arguing that the prevalence of formal fracture in the recent Irish cinema is related to these films’ status as trauma narratives. The second half of the dissertation looks at these formal strategies - achronological narrative and flashback; ellipsis and descriptive pause; and repetition and circularity - in a number of exemplary Irish films. By taking a new approach, one based in cognitive theories of emotion as well as trauma theory and textual analysis, this work challenges the dominant critical response to contemporary Irish cinema. It offers new insight into the development of a national film culture, while also exploring the relationship between film form and the expression of emotion
    Date of AwardDec 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorLiz Greene (Supervisor) & Alexander Fisher (Supervisor)

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