Riffaterrean ungrammaticality and Ricoeurian discourse as performance in the films and collaborations of Claire Denis

Munro, Jenny (2014) Riffaterrean ungrammaticality and Ricoeurian discourse as performance in the films and collaborations of Claire Denis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3085052


This thesis seeks to interrogate the presence and purposes of intertextuality in the work of contemporary French filmmaker Claire Denis, with specific focus on Michael Riffaterre’s theories of ungrammaticality, and Paul Ricoeur’s work on discourse as event or performance. Neither Riffaterre nor Ricoeur’s theories of intertextuality have been engaged in much depth in the study of cinema. Denis’s œuvre, which is composed mainly of feature films, but also includes short films, documentaries, music videos and collaborations on exhibitions and live concerts, is vastly intertextual, engaging with other moving image media, music, visual art, philosophy, poetry and literature, and media coverage of real events. In current criticism, Denis and many of her fellow contemporary French female filmmakers are more commonly referred to through a gender-neutral prism of auteurism rather than with reference to their gender, which may be read as a means for a female director to disengage with any categorisation of her work as resolutely female-centric. The auteur label is problematic, however, as it tends to suggest a state of creative isolation and supremacy, where the author’s recognizable creative voice as it appears throughout their work is more important than any other element of a film. This description sits particularly uneasily with the work of Denis, for whom collaboration and intertextual engagement with other sources is vital; this is evident in Denis’s consistent highlighting of the importance of her regular collaborators’ contributions to her work, and the texts with which her films engage, in interviews. Interviews with Denis, therefore, will form as important an element of my primary research material as her corpus of films and other works.

In the introduction to this thesis, I will highlight some of the main themes and concerns of Denis’s work, namely foreignness, intrusion and the body, and introduce the corpus of critical work which has explored them. Such themes will certainly arise in my work, but will always be explored through the foregrounding of Riffaterre and Ricoeur’s theories of intertextuality. I will then proceed to briefly examine how Denis may be read as an intertextual auteur, though the phrase may as yet seem something of an oxymoron. The main body of the thesis thereafter will be used to search Denis’s œuvre for intertexts, aligning specific films and other creative endeavours together wherever they share particular themes or may be read productively through a particular theory of intertextuality. My aim, eventually, will be to examine how this intertextual richness may lead to a re-evaluation of Denis not as an auteur in the conventional sense, but as one for whom collaboration and textual openness are crucial.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Claire Denis; French cinema; Michael Riffaterre; Paul Ricoeur; Intertextuality
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Supervisor's Name: Fotiade, Dr. Ramona and Reader, Professor Keith
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Dr Jenny Munro
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5610
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2014 10:37
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2014 10:44
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5610

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