Representations of the American sublime in a selection of films, 1968-1992

Lovatt, D.J., 2000. Representations of the American sublime in a selection of films, 1968-1992. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Through exploring Burkean and Kantian formulations of the sublime, my thesis aims to establish a visual and verbal rhetoric of Americanised versions of sublimity as an iconoclastic language and ideology of limitless possibility. 1 also examine the ways in which filmic representations of American sublimity both draw from and contribute to conventional representations of the American Sublime.

Identifying a recurrent 'edge motif operating with traditional and recent, filmic representations of the American Sublime, my thesis, building on work by Rob Wilson and Elizabeth McKinsey, links the motif to the etymological roots of the sublime, as well as to the experience of the American Sublime as a dynamic of negation and recreation. Addressing what can be described as the politics of the American Sublime, however, my thesis also connects the use of the edge motif within the selected films to contemporary anxieties about American techno-corporate imperialism. In this way, I discuss how the selected films can be regarded as critiques of the current dominant economic order which is portrayed, with different emphasis, as a totalising, artificial and delimiting power structure.

My thesis also argues, however, that the American Sublime, as a discourse celebrating newness and self and national aggrandisement, is complicit in the kind of marketplace ideologies and practices which it seems to oppose. Incorporating the iconography of the American sublime into their critical strategies as a figure of liberation and self-empowerment, the majority of the selected films, I contend, are thus severely constrained in their attempts to resist imaginatively the current American economic and cultural hegemony. Through analysis of a filmic inversion of American sublimity in the final chapter, and developing a line of argument advanced by David E. Nye and John F. Sears, this thesis concludes that the American Sublime, as a discourse of self and national identity and power, is a habitual mode of thought and practice which deadens, rather than raises, political consciousness.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Lovatt, D.J.
Date: 2000
ISBN: 9781369315844
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 22 Sep 2020 10:39
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2023 10:11

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