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History and Film


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Table of Contents

Table of Contents Acknowledgments Preface Introduction: History and Film in Parallel Orbits Part I: Historical and Theoretical Questions Chapter 1: The Archaeology of the Debate: Cinema and Literature as Analogies for History Chapter 2: The Problem of Medium Specificity Chapter 3: The Theory and Practice of History Part II: History on Film: Narrating and Explaining the Past Chapter 4: The Poetics of History and the Poetics of the Historical Film Chapter 5: The Representation of History in the Fiction Film Chapter 6: The Representation of History in the Documentary Conclusion: Filmic History in the Twentieth Century: a Successful Performance of Failure Bibliography Index

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A bold and original theoretical approach to the representation of history on film.

About the Author

Eleftheria Thanouli is Assistant Professor in Film Theory at the Film Department at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam in 2005. She is the author of Post-Classical Cinema: An International Poetics of Film Narration (2009).


A deft and authoritative book with great case studies (especially for those interested in cinematic representations of war), this book should define the film/history debate for years to come. Summing Up: Essential. * CHOICE *
Provides the reader with a selected literature review of some of the important works that engage with the intersection of the two disciplines. Moreover, it assembles a taxonomy for the analysis of historical films, both fiction and nonfiction, that may prove useful to students of film. * Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media *
In my many years of work in this field, I can think of no other study that involves this level of intellectual sophistication in both theories of history and of the visual media, and certainly none which has grappled so successfully with the contentious issues surrounding the question of rendering the human past on screen. * Robert A Rosenstone, Professor Emeritus of History, California Institute of Technology, USA *
A comprehensive and rigorous study, Thanouli's fine work enriches our understanding of the historical film as a powerful agent of contemporary thinking about the past. Bringing sophisticated readings of historiography and film theory together, Thanouli critically integrates the two disciplines in a way that will undergird future research. A major scholarly accomplishment. * Robert Burgoyne, author of Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at US History (revised edition, 2010) *
Eleftheria Thanouli's new book reconceptualizes and reframes one of the most vexing questions in the history of film studies - that of the relationship between written and visual narratives. The scope of History and Film: A Tale of Two Disciplines extends and enriches the semantics of the field as established by Andre Bazin, Marc Ferro, Robert Rosenstone, and Hayden White. Yet it goes further by incorporating new problematics and fresh approaches which make it the most innovative contemporary contribution to the study of filmic history by addressing the representation of history in historical films, fiction film, and documentary and by exploring dimensions of historical emplotment in various written narratives. From the early Soviet experiments to contemporary imaginative narratives, Thanouli's book investigates thoroughly and conclusively the complex relations between narrative and visual forms and re-interprets their links and disjunctures. It will be the study for standard reference for many years to come. * Vrasidas Karalis, Sir Nicholas Laurantos Chair in Modern Greek Studies, University of Sydney, Australia *

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