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Inhospitable World


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Part One: On Location 1. Buster Keaton's Climate Change 2. Nuclear Conditioning 3. The Ecologies of Film Noir Part Two: At the End of the World 4. Still Life 5. Antarctica and Siegfried Kracauer's Extraterrestrial Film Theory Conclusion: The Epoch and the Archive Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Jennifer Fay is Associate Professor of Film and English at Vanderbilt University where she also directs the Program in Cinema and Media Arts. Her books include Theaters of Occupation: Hollywood and the Reeducation of Postwar Germany (Minnesota, 2008) and Film Noir: Hard-Boiled Modernity and the Cultures of Globalization co-authored with Justus Nieland (Routledge, 2010).


"[A] stunningly original and deeply troubling book... Throughout the text, Fay makes astonishing and compelling connections between these films and the collapse of a once ecologically stable world. The result is a groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind book destined to be a classic. This is film criticism at its most urgent and impressive. Essential." --CHOICE "Compelling and brilliant on every page, Inhospitable Worlds shows where film figures in the slow burn of the Anthropocene. In five clearly drawn and meticulously documented studies running from Keaton to noir, from China's three gorges to atomic testing sites in Nevada, and from the South Pole to the Yukon, Fay draws attention to contradictions and dilemmas at the core of cinema. Crafting a strategy of melancholy to rethink its condition past and present, Fay turns criticism in new and definitive directions. Anyone having concern about the condition of our planet must read Inhospitable Worlds."-- Tom Conley, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University "At a time when much of the world is consumed with anxiety about the fate of the planet, Jennifer Fay shows us a way forward by traveling backward ironically and locating our future in the present. Inhospitable World reveals a history of cinema mobilized, as it were, for the purposes of rendering and conveying a world crisis as it unfolds. Cinema, in Fay's hands, is not only a vehicle, nor merely a medium, but a technology designed in part to capture this crisis invisible elsewhere. Not only a breath-taking feat of film scholarship, Inhospitable World is also a genuine contribution to the task of critical thought in a time of despair. It serves as an exhortation."-- Akira Mizuta Lippit, T. C. Wang Family Endowed Chair in Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California "Inhospitable World teems with cinematic lessons in survival, from the 'survival burlesques' of Buster Keaton to Bill Morrison's chronicle of the Dawson City Film Find. But there's a catch: the survivors of the Anthropocene may not be human. In Fay's arresting account, cinema's profuse world-making hastens, even as it broods on, the unmaking of human futurity. The history of film is retold in these pages as a rehearsal for a world without us."-- Paul K. Saint-Amour, author of Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form "Whereas other books have focused on "cli-fi" films that envision a dystopian future, Inhospitable World embraces a highly eclectic range of works with an often oblique or unexpected relation to the subject of ecological inhospitality. Moreover, by tracing a broad trajectory of films from the silent era to the present, Fay is able to examine material shifts in cinematic production in tandem with the mid-twentieth-century onset of the Great Acceleration, which has dissolved the longstanding distinction between the earth and human world, the environment and socioeconomic order-or, in Hegelian-Marxist terms, between first and second nature."--Film Quarterly "The provisional optimism of Fay's book... encourages us to push beyond the easy moralism of so much work in the environmental humanities...We need, in other words, to rethink film's power, not simply as entertainment, but as education - as an ongoing series of object lessons in how we make, see, and inhabit a changing world." -- Brian Jacobson, Los Angeles Review of Books

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