Screening the Museum Aesthetic: Auteurs in Transnational Heritage Film
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This dissertation interrogates the relationship between heritage visual culture and its ability to present an alternative individual and collective past. Expanding on Gavriel D. Rosenfeld’s concept of an alternate history, this dissertation suggests that a nation’s citizens can appropriate identities from other cultures to attempt to avoid or work through their own national past. It uses the categories of the museum, transnationalism, and authenticity as points of departure. The dissertation is divided into four chapters based on the works of a primary auteur. The first chapter, “Film on Museum, Museum on Film: Reexamining the Heritage ‘Museum Aesthetic,” examines the representation of Andrew Higson’s “museum aesthetic” through films set in museums. It focuses primarily on the museum films of Alexander Sokurov, and his desire to portray European sites of memory, often with a measure of historical erasure. The second chapter, “The Alternative Heimat: Herzog and Reitz’s Representations of the Indianer,” examines Herzog’s and his films’ participation in the Indianerkultur present in Germany since the nineteenth century. The chapter uses the case study of the media controversy surrounding the production of Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo (1982) as a lost moment of reflexivity in Germany’s appropriation of indigenous identities through film and print culture over the past two centuries. The second half of the dissertation then gradually shifts from an emphasis on appropriated visual culture to a focus on auteur authenticity, authorship, and adaptation. “An American in Paris, London, and Barcelona: Woody Allen’s Take on European Heritage” examines Allen’s latest series of films set in Europe in terms of an outsider identification with the American tourist living abroad. His desire to produce a cosmopolitan pastness in his artistry results in the reinforcement of racialized and gendered stereotypes. The second chapter in this section and final in this dissertation, titled “My Wuthering Heights:” Jane Campion and Immersive Heritage,” examines Campion’s adaptation of nineteenth century novels, and how they influence the imagery and narrative structures of her films. Moreover, it interrogates how she negotiates her own status as an auteur and the appropriation of canonical heritage texts. Focusing primarily on transatlantic movements (German, British, French, and American) across a variety of media, this dissertation draws on a variety of texts from the nineteenth century novel to the contemporary heritage serial. Its framing of the intersections of continuous pasts and the dynamic exchange of transnational identities emphasizes the importance of heritage studies in a globalized world.