High Anxiety? An exploration of the pedagogy of difference and the body in popular Hollywood film

August 5, 2008

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. | Neville Scarfe Building, Room 310

Dr. Andrew Thornton, Roehampton University, London UK

In this presentation, Dr. Thornton aims to explore the seemingly self-aware and ironic, even postmodern, construction of the imagery of the heroic body in popular Hollywood film. This oft repeated imagery arguably reinforces a series of retrograde notions of gender, race, and sexuality. However, Andrew will also highlight how much of this imagery also reflects a deep cultural anxiety concerning the dissolution of dominant hierarchies of identity and difference. Or in other terms popular films seems to be the site of an attempt to stabilize dominant identities and are not a celebration of difference. Examples are drawn primarily from recent ‘blockbuster’ films: The Fantastic Four, The Incredibles and Batman Begins. The concern is to draw attention to the visual economies and cultural logics that appear to underpin and organize the making and animating of filmic bodies. Or in other terms, he aims to explore the pedagogy of difference and embodiment in popular film. As well, Dr. Thornton will draw attention to the ways in which the imagery and symbolism of the sporting body seem to be central to the intelligibility of the ‘heroic’ body in popular Hollywood film.