Listening to ab(pre)scence: a derridean approach to the analysis of sound-image relations in early cinema

PhD Thesis

Samson, E. 2019. Listening to ab(pre)scence: a derridean approach to the analysis of sound-image relations in early cinema. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Arts and Humanities
AuthorsSamson, E.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

My thesis is an investigation into the period of history surrounding the introduction of synchronised sound to film. The intention is in part to redress the current position that sound practice and theory holds in film today, but also to discover a method for understanding film as an audiovisual medium; ontologically necessitating an interplay between sound and image. Prioritising sound is not the intention of this thesis, as to do so would negate the ability to understand film as both sound and image.

Theoretical concepts from the deconstructionist philosopher, Jacques Derrida, are appropriated to create a new model that can be used for film analysis. This model attempts to treat film as audiovisual, and uncover specifically, a way in which sound and image can be understood and examined together, resulting in a proliferation of available readings and meanings from the film text.

Two ‘transitional’ films from 1927, The Jazz Singer, and Sunrise, along with synchronised sound tests from the 1890s onwards, are used as case studies to which the deconstructionist model of analysis is applied. Once the films are removed from their technological and historical positions in film history, the analysis uncovers new meanings and readings.

Archival magazines and journals are reviewed to provide additional insights into the period of transition to synchronised sound. The knowledge uncovered here helps to contribute to a greater understanding of the period and, combined with a Derridean analysis, the research also offers insight that is valuable to the understanding of film today.

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Publication process dates
Deposited04 Jun 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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