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ISBN: 9780813599588

Publication Date: Jan 2019

Format: Paperback

Also available as: Hardback  

With over 50 original essays by leading scholars, artists, critics, and curators, this is the first book to trace the "unwatchable" across our contemporary media environment, in which viewers encounter difficult content on various screens and platforms. The volume offers multidisciplinary approaches to the vast array of troubling images that circulate in global visual culture.
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  • Full Description
  • More Information
  • Table of Contents
  • Author Biography
  • Customer Reviews
We all have images that we find unwatchable, whether for ethical, political, or sensory and affective reasons. From news coverage of terror attacks to viral videos of police brutality, and from graphic horror films to transgressive artworks, many of the images in our media culture might strike us as unsuitable for viewing. Yet what does it mean to proclaim something "unwatchable": disturbing, revolting, poor, tedious, or literally inaccessible?
 
With over 50 original essays by leading scholars, artists, critics, and curators, this is the first book to trace the "unwatchable" across our contemporary media environment, in which viewers encounter difficult content on various screens and platforms. Appealing to a broad academic and general readership, the volume offers multidisciplinary approaches to the vast array of troubling images that circulate in global visual culture.

Reviews

"A substantial collection of essays, bristling with anxiety about the social impact of the kind of mediations broadcasting the news requires of us daily." –Times Literary Supplement

"The essay collection Unwatchable places the concept of "that which cannot be viewed" at the center of almost every discussion about media aesthetics, theory, and politics that is currently taking place, from representation theory to the ethics of the spectator. The more than fifty essays in the collection illuminate the concept from all angles and make the book an indispensable introduction for everyone interested in media culture." – Filmkrant
Illustrations 51 images
Pages 412
Dimensions 229 x 152 x 25
Date Published 30 Jan 2019
Publisher Rutgers University Press
Subject/s The arts: general issues   Films, cinema   Television   Media studies   Popular culture   Film theory & criticism  
  • Introduction: Envisioning the Unwatchable
  • Part I: Violence and Testimony
  • Theorizing the Unwatchable
  • 1. W. J. T. Mitchell, Unwatchable
  • 2. Boris Groys, The Gaze from Within
  • 3. Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Unwatchable and the Unwatchable
  • 4. Alenka Zupani, Melting Into Visibility
  • 5. Meghan Sutherland, Pro Forma
  • Spectacles of Destruction
  • 6. Jonathan Crary, Terminal Radiance
  • 7. Poulomi Saha, Unwatched/Unmanned: Drone Strikes and the Aesthetics of the Unseen
  • 8. Alex Bush, Breakaway
  • 9. Meir Wigoder, The Watchability of the Unwatchable: Television Disaster Coverage
  • Bearing Witness
  • 10. Peter Geimer, The Incommensurable
  • 11. Leshu Torchin, Not Seeing is Believing: The Unwatchable in Advocacy
  • 12. Frances Guerin, Even If She Had Been a Criminal: A Past Unwatched
  • 13. Federico Windhausen, Deframing Evidence: A Transmission from Los ingrávidos
  • 14. Emily Wills, Alan Kurdi's Body on the Shore
  • Visual Regimes of Racial Violence
  • 15. Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, Held Helpless in the Breach: On American History X
  • 16. Jared Sexton, The Flash of History: On the Unwatchable in Get Out
  • 17. Alexandra Juhasz, Nothing is Unwatchable for All
  • 18. Michael Boyce Gillespie, Empathy. Complicity.
  • Spectacularization and Resistance
  • 19. Alok Vaid-Menon, Entertainment Value
  • 20. Alec Butler, Holocausts, Headdresses, Hallowe'en
  • 21. Danielle Peers, Unwitnessable: Outrageous Ableist Impersonations and Unwitnessed Everyday Violence
  • Part II:  Histories and Genres
  • The Tradition of Provocateurs
  • 22. Asbjørn Grønstad, The Two Unwatchables
  • 23. Akira Lippit, Real Horrorshow
  • 24. Mauro Resmini, Asymmetries of Desire: Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom
  • 25. Mattias Frey, Unstomachable: Irréversible and the Extreme Cinema Tradition
  • Enduring the Avant-Garde
  • 26. Christophe Wall-Romana, Unwatchability by Choice: Isou's Venom and Eternity
  • 27. Kenny Berger, The Refusal of Spectacle: Debord's Howls for Sade
  • 28. J. Hoberman, Warhol's Empire: Unwatched and Unwatchable
  • 29. Noël Carroll, Warhol's Empire
  • 30. Erika Balsom, Watching Paint Dry
  • Visceral Responses to Horror
  • 31. Vivian Sobchack, "Peek-a-boo": Thoughts on (Maybe Not) Seeing Two Horror Films
  • 32. B. Ruby Rich, Why I Cannot Watch Horror Movies
  • 33. Genevieve Yue, Apotropes
  • Pornography and the Question of Pleasure
  • 34. Susie Bright, I Am Curious (Butterball)
  • 35. Bill Nichols, At the Threshold to the Void
  • Archives and the Disintegrating Image
  • 36. Elif Rongen-Kaynakci, Restoring Blood Money
  • 37. Jan Olsson, Negotiating Garbo
  • 38. Philipp Stiasny and Bennet Togler, Twilight of the Dead
  • Part III: Spectators and Objects
  • Passionate Aversions
  • 39. Jonathan Rosenbaum, "Sad!": Why I Won't Watch Antichrist
  • 40. Julian Hanich, Oh, Inventiveness! Oh, Imaginativeness! Precious Cinema and Its Discontents: A Rant
  • 41. Nathan Lee, Transforming Nihilism
  • 42. Jeffrey Sconce, The Biopic is an Affront to the Cinema
  • Tedious Whiteness
  • 43. Jack Halberstam, White Men Behaving Sadly
  • 44. Mel Y. Chen, Two Tables and a Ladder: WCGW?
  • 45. Brandy Monk-Payton, "You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important" or, Why I Can't Watch The Help
  • Reality Trumpism
  • 46. Lynne Joyrich, TV Trumps
  • 47. Abigail De Kosnik, The Once and Future Hillary: Why I Won't Watch Any Fictionalizations of the 2016 Election
  • Pedagogy and Campus Politics
  • 48. Paul Perez, Why We Can't Take a Joke
  • 49. Jennifer Malkowski, The Bridge and Unteachable Films
  • 50. Katariina Kyrölä, Squirming in the Classroom: Fat Girl and the Ethical Value of Extreme Discomfort
  • The Triggered Spectator
  • 51. E. Ann Kaplan, What is an "Unwatchable" Film? (With Reference to Amour and Still Alice)
  • 52. Barbara Hammer, Unwatchable Advertising
  • 53. Samuel England, Sects, Fries, and Videotape
  • 54. Rebecca Schneider, Off Watch
  • Acknowledgments
  • Filmography
  • Bibliography
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
Nicholas Baer is a collegiate assistant professor in the humanities and Harper-Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago in Illinois. He is the coeditor of the award-winning The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907–1933.
 
Maggie Hennefeld is an assistant professor of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is the author of Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes.
 
Laura Horak is an associate professor of film studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She is the author of the award-winning Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908–1934 (Rutgers University Press).
 
Gunnar Iversen is a professor of film studies at Carleton University. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than twenty books.

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