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postgraduate thesis: Emotion and art : a defense of an embodied theory of cinematic horror

TitleEmotion and art : a defense of an embodied theory of cinematic horror
Authors
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Yeung, K. L. [楊家頌]. (2012). Emotion and art : a defense of an embodied theory of cinematic horror. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5066205
AbstractThis thesis is concerned with art and emotion, and horror fiction in particular. I criticize a theoretical paradigm of emotion and art based on cognitive theories of emotion, and argue that the approach developed in this thesis is a more promising one. I shall begin by clarifying the role of affective response in our emotional engagement with art. Two dominant cognitivist accounts of art and emotion—Walton’s Make-believe Theory and Carroll’s Thought Theory—will be discussed. I position the two theories as competing solutions to Radford’s puzzle of response to fiction so as to examine the subsequent debates between them. I aim to show that the debates reach an impasse as a consequence of their ignoring affective responses in favour of cognitive states. As a result, I call for a deeper investigation of affective responses to works of art. In Chapter 2, I demonstrate that both theories fail to take formal/stylistic elements of an artwork into serious consideration and to address the power of film. In Chapter 3, I discuss problems specific to Carroll’s analysis of the horror genre. I hope to show that the flaws of his approach are rooted in a mischaracterization of the emotion “horror” as a cognitive emotion. I then set forth constraints for a more promising account of cinematic horror. One of the constraints is being able to deal with the peculiarities of horror film music and sound, which seem to be beyond the grasp of cognitivist analysis. The various drawbacks of the two cognitive theories can be traced back to their common assumption that cognitive states are necessary for emotion. So in Chapter 4 I scrutinize various forms of arguments in favour of this cognitivist view of emotion and I conclude that the view is not justified. In Chapter 5, therefore, I explore an alternative theory of emotion. Drawing mainly on works of J. Prinz and J. Robinson, I discuss an embodied appraisal theory of emotion which maintains that affective responses have primacy over cognitive states in emotion and that non-cognitive states can also trigger emotion. Taking this embodied appraisal theory of emotion as my starting point, in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, I then develop an embodied theory of filmic emotion, on which an aesthetics of cinematic horror can be built. I defend the embodied theory in terms of its competence in providing an account of various phenomena regarding affective responses evoked by fiction, the emotive-power of stylistic/formal elements and the power of film. In the light of the embodied theory, I re-conceptualize the emotion “horror” and address the peculiarities of horror film music and sound. By demonstrating how the embodied appraisal theory of emotion contributes to a more comprehensive account of filmic emotion and a subtler aesthetic of cinematic horror, I conclude that it is a more promising theory of emotion that facilitates a proper understanding of our emotional engagement with art.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectEmotions in art
Dept/ProgramPhilosophy
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/200341

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorYeung, Ka-chung, Lorraine-
dc.contributor.author楊家頌-
dc.date.accessioned2014-08-08T23:12:41Z-
dc.date.available2014-08-08T23:12:41Z-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationYeung, K. L. [楊家頌]. (2012). Emotion and art : a defense of an embodied theory of cinematic horror. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5066205-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/200341-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis is concerned with art and emotion, and horror fiction in particular. I criticize a theoretical paradigm of emotion and art based on cognitive theories of emotion, and argue that the approach developed in this thesis is a more promising one. I shall begin by clarifying the role of affective response in our emotional engagement with art. Two dominant cognitivist accounts of art and emotion—Walton’s Make-believe Theory and Carroll’s Thought Theory—will be discussed. I position the two theories as competing solutions to Radford’s puzzle of response to fiction so as to examine the subsequent debates between them. I aim to show that the debates reach an impasse as a consequence of their ignoring affective responses in favour of cognitive states. As a result, I call for a deeper investigation of affective responses to works of art. In Chapter 2, I demonstrate that both theories fail to take formal/stylistic elements of an artwork into serious consideration and to address the power of film. In Chapter 3, I discuss problems specific to Carroll’s analysis of the horror genre. I hope to show that the flaws of his approach are rooted in a mischaracterization of the emotion “horror” as a cognitive emotion. I then set forth constraints for a more promising account of cinematic horror. One of the constraints is being able to deal with the peculiarities of horror film music and sound, which seem to be beyond the grasp of cognitivist analysis. The various drawbacks of the two cognitive theories can be traced back to their common assumption that cognitive states are necessary for emotion. So in Chapter 4 I scrutinize various forms of arguments in favour of this cognitivist view of emotion and I conclude that the view is not justified. In Chapter 5, therefore, I explore an alternative theory of emotion. Drawing mainly on works of J. Prinz and J. Robinson, I discuss an embodied appraisal theory of emotion which maintains that affective responses have primacy over cognitive states in emotion and that non-cognitive states can also trigger emotion. Taking this embodied appraisal theory of emotion as my starting point, in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, I then develop an embodied theory of filmic emotion, on which an aesthetics of cinematic horror can be built. I defend the embodied theory in terms of its competence in providing an account of various phenomena regarding affective responses evoked by fiction, the emotive-power of stylistic/formal elements and the power of film. In the light of the embodied theory, I re-conceptualize the emotion “horror” and address the peculiarities of horror film music and sound. By demonstrating how the embodied appraisal theory of emotion contributes to a more comprehensive account of filmic emotion and a subtler aesthetic of cinematic horror, I conclude that it is a more promising theory of emotion that facilitates a proper understanding of our emotional engagement with art.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshEmotions in art-
dc.titleEmotion and art : a defense of an embodied theory of cinematic horror-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5066205-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePhilosophy-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5066205-
dc.date.hkucongregation2013-

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