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Mapping Cinematic Norths

International Interpretations in Film and Television


Edited By Julia Dobson and Jonathan Rayner

Mapping Cinematic Norths presents an international range of research and enquiry into the significance, representation and manipulation of depictions of the ‘North’ in cinema and television. Northern landscapes, soundscapes, characters and narratives are defined and recognized as distinctive image-spaces within film and television. However, the ‘North’ is portrayed, exploited and interpreted in divergent ways by filmmakers and film audiences worldwide, and this volume sheds new light on these varying perspectives.

Bringing together the work of established and emerging academics as well as practising filmmakers, this collection offers new critical insights into the coalescence of North-ness on screen, exploring examples from Britain, Scandinavia, continental Europe, Australia and the United States. With contextual consideration and close readings, these essays investigate concepts of the North on film from generic, national, aesthetic, theoretical, institutional and archival perspectives, charting and challenging the representations and preconceptions of the idea of North-ness across cultural and cinematic heritages.

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North is a discursive formation […], and as such it has done and continues to do a great deal of ideological and practical work.1

The North begins inside.2

The tension between these pragmatic and poetic statements encapsulates the diversely potent vectors of Norths discussed in this volume. Norths are situated both as relative, contextualized locations and locators which can be written and read across sundry fields of cultural production, and as personal mappings that, exceeding careful notations of longitude and latitude, assert psycho-cultural and affective magnetic pulls, suggest inner absolutes and promise individualized renderings of multiple ‘true’ Norths. Norths may be construed as ends and endings, but they can begin their creation and construction anywhere.

At this beginning of the twenty-first century, the North and the construction of North-ness seem to constitute privileged sites of cultural consumption and production. As Dobson points out in her chapter on Northern France, one of the striking features of twenty-first-century North-ness is a distinct cultural valorization of the North in middle-class discourse, including preferences for ‘Scandi’ design, the fashionable adoption of extreme weather clothing for all but extreme commuting conditions and televisual and literary renditions of the ‘Nordic noir’. This suggests that the North and North-ness have been identified as a new ‘exotic’ in the face ← 1 | 2 → of the problematic power dynamics that preclude a continuing fetishization of, or discursive focus on, the global South. This conceptualization of North-ness therefore accompanies and foregrounds uncomfortable mappings of...

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