Richard Dyer (King’s College, London)
The Persistence of Textual Analysis
Textual analysis is one of the oldest methods in Film Studies but also one of the most contested. It has been widely critiqued as a method, with approaches from theory, contextualisation, production and reception studies challenging its validity. Yet the practice of it persists, in the use of examples in scholarly work, in teaching and in reviewing in the media, and, not least, in everyday discourse. What forms does the critique take and how strong are their cases? Why does textual analysis persist? Should it? In what form? These questions will be addressed, taking examples from films (specifically Rocco e i suoi fratelli, 1960, and Trouble Man, 1972), although the issue of textual analysis runs across all the arts and humanities and indeed across all human knowledge.
Richard Dyer is Professor Emeritus at King’s College London and Professorial Fellow at St. Andrews University. His books include Stars, Heavenly Bodies, Now You See It: Historical Studies in Lesbian and Gay Film, White, The Culture of Queers, Only Entertainment, The Matter of Images, Pastiche, Nino Rota: Music, Film and Feeling, In the Space of a Song and Lethal Repetition: Serial Killing in European Cinema.