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Spaces of Expression and Repression in Post-Millennial North-American Literature and Visual Culture

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Edited By Izabella Kimak and Julia Nikiel

The essays included in this book offer an overview of literary works, films, TV series, and computer games, which reflect current social and political developments since the beginning of this century. The contributions intend to x-ray the most crucial aspects of contemporary North-American literature and culture. Addressing a variety of media, the authors of the essays probe the many ways in which repression and expression are the primary keywords for understanding contemporary American life and culture.

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Eye(s) in the Sky: Icons of War and Techno-Gaze in Contemporary Audiovisual Culture (Paweł Frelik)

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Paweł Frelik

Eye(s) in the Sky: Icons of War and Techno-Gaze in Contemporary Audiovisual Culture

Abstract: Launching off with the juxtaposition of two individual frames from Apocalypse Now (1979) and Sicario (2015), the article investigates the visual iconography of systems of power in the pre- and post-9/11 United States.

Keywords: aesthetics, film, military, politics

In 10/40/70: Constraint as Liberation in the Era of Digital Film Theory (2014), Nicholas Rombes proposes a new way of looking at movies. Instead of engaging in a belabored hunt for the elusive master meaning in a maze of words, images, and sounds, what he calls “plagues of meaning” (Rombes 3), he asks us to pause a film at 10-, 40-, and 70-minute marks and consider the frames at hand – no matter what they are. Rombes’ tactics is obviously indebted to Roland Barthes and his concept of the third meaning developed in his analysis of Eisenstein’s stills from Battleship Potemkin (1925) and Ivan the Terrible (1944). For Barthes, the first meaning is purely informational, denotative. It is narratively important but also sensorial: images convey all kinds of information about their own content. The second meaning is symbolic and tied to signification, often larger than the content of a single frame. It is at this level that shots and sequences connect with each other and offer parabolic messages. But it is Barthes’ third meaning that is, arguably, his most lasting contribution to the study of visual media. The...

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