Metamodernism Article

Monday, 24 October 2011

bright star

bright star

I've written an article called, 'Seeking Substance in Historical Costume Films', for the webzine, Notes on Metamodernism. It is slightly more academic in tone than I usually write for online articles, although, I hope, still accessible. I put so much thought and passion into this article, and it's on a topic that I find truly fascinating. Here are a few excerpts:

From Jameson’s critique of postmodernism, we have fashioned a mode of postmodern nostalgia defined by the commodification, aestheticisation and deconstruction of the past in the present. The idea that our modern culture functions via the flattening out of history as a marketable “image” or a commodified “style” is assumed as fact. And it is a fact that is applied to a whole host of contemporary historical and period films that utilise the appeal of the past through a type of museum aesthetic, where the cultural legacy of the past is displayed as a pleasing aesthetic, and nothing more. I don’t deny the logic of such an argument, but I also believe there is a considerable search for substance that goes hand-in-hand with our rampant consumption of style and image, which moves us beyond postmodernism. It is a search for substance that begins with the very meaning of the word “nostalgia”.


I view Campion’s Bright Star as a metaphor for how to approach many other costume and period films. Looking at them purely as a form of aestheticised postmodern superficiality ignores their varied searches for something behind the beautiful veneer of representation, style and image. We may be deeply enamoured with the styles of the past, with representation over “fact”, and we may still be lingering in the pain of a loss of historicity. But we are no longer content to remain in nowhere land, without a home. Campion’s Bright Star reminds me that if, on the one hand, we continue to accumulate aestheticised imagery in place of substantial history and can no longer approach history with a credulous innocence, we are still, nevertheless, digging beneath this imagery with eyes wide open, searching for clues into who we are, where we belong, and how we choose to re-imagine that which has been lost.

bright star

bright star

bright star

Click here to read the whole article. And I would love to hear some feedback if you'd like to offer some. I'm also fascinated by the concept of "metamodernism", as explained here, here and here.

On a separate note, thank you so much for all the kind comments and emails I received about this post. I really don't know what to say, other than thank you.


Sundari said...

I kept refreshing the page waiting for the article to appear. I really enjoyed reading it. While there is a lot there that I have to spend more time pondering (particularly the first few paragraphs), I really think it is quite relevant to my current research. The more I read your blog and the further I go through my paper the more I think the life of an academic is actually really stimulating and satisfying (though I'm no expert).

hila said...

It is satisfying, but also precarious :) it also involves sacrificing financial stability to a certain extent. But you know, nothing beats the satisfaction of writing for me. I don't know what I'd do with myself if I couldn't write. It's probably the same for you with photography.

I just responded to your comment on the metamodernism website. I totally agree with what you said about Fanny, and how her art gets dismissed in the film by the men around her. I saw that as a metaphor. And I also wanted to let you know here that whenever I think of Campion's Bright Star, I think of your photography too. I think you have the same style, but also, substance, of this type of film. This is why I'm always drawn to your photos ... anyway, if you want to continue this conversation via email, feel free to email me :) I hope the exegesis is going well!

Tana said...

Congratulations on a very interesting article! read it with pleasure

Monica said...

read your post last night and didn't think i could squeeze in an academic article of that length. but managed this morn while the little one eating breakfast. :)

posted my reply there.

i have to see this film now!

naomemandeflores said...

Brilliant, as usual Hila! You are a breath of fresh air in the academic world.

Camila Faria

tywo said...

I feel quite stupid that I have never pondered about "metamodernism". I enjoyed reading your article. I love that you saw the Bright star differently. When I watched it, I thought of Fanny, but not as much as I should have. But your words about Campion compelling her audience to consider those left out made me realize that there was more to the story than just the life of Keats.
Anyway, you are very brilliant. I adore how you notice the details.


hila said...

tana: thank you, you're very lovely :)

monica: I read your comment on the metamodernism website, thank you. I'm impressed you were able to squeeze in reading such a heavy article with a 3 year old beckoning :) thank you, I really appreciate it.

camila: ha, that's so sweet! I'm not sure the academic world agrees though ;)

tywo: making people feel stupid is the last thing that I ever want to do. I only heard about metamodernism recently. But something sort of clicked in my head when I read about it - it's like certain things that I've always been interested in suddenly made sense. I'm learning too. Thank you for this comment.