Jenny Chamarette – Sur mes lèvres, Deafness, Embodiment: Towards a Film Phenomenology of a Differently Ordered Sensorium

Event Date: 21 March 2013
Centre for Creative Collaboration (c4cc)
16 Acton Street
London WC1X 9NG

Part of Royal Holloway’s Trauma, Fiction, History Series, jointly sponsored by the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures and the Humanities and Arts Research Centre, Royal Holloway, University of London:

Disability and Culture: Whose Tragedy?

As part of Dr Hannah Thompson‘s research on representations of disability, this series of workshops are developing an interdisciplinary and collaborative research project called ‘Disability and Culture’. The first event in this project is a study day to explore how the ‘personal non-tragedy’ approach to disability can encourage us to see disability differently.

Dr Jenny Chamarette (Queen Mary, University of London) – Sur mes lèvres, Deafness, Embodiment: Towards a Film Phenomenology of a Differently Ordered Sensorium

This paper sets out to explore the relationships and contacts between a film phenomenology that rethinks the ordered sensorium of the audiovisual, and the persistent issue of situated bodiliness, in particular with regard to differently abled bodies. More specifically again, it aims to explore embodied representations of deafness in Jacques Audiard’s 2003 feature film, Sur mes lèvres (Read my Lips) and also in Nicolas Philibert’s 1992 documentary, Au Pays des sourds (In the Land of the Deaf). Drawing on feminist phenomenological theories of embodiment (Young 1989, Sobchack 2004) and recent work in disability studies and performance studies (Siebers, 2010, Kuppers 2003), this paper engages with cinematic presentations of bodies that experience sound and sight differently, and how those representations might challenge existing cultural delineations of ability and disability. Beyond the ethics of representation, my paper also returns to French film theorist and musicologist Michel Chion’s claim that film is primarily an art of sound, to challenge the bodily-normative implications of such a claim, and to examine the possibilities that a film-phenomenology of deafness might have for rethinking cinema’s connections to the embodied sensorium.


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