I completed my PhD in Cinema Studies at NYU in 2000, following an MA in Art History at University of Melbourne, and a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature at University of Adelaide, Australia.
My work is motivated by a series of questions that investigate the relationship between modernist images and the historical world in which they are conceived, produced, exhibited and received. I am interested in questions such as: How do modernist images and abstract art represent the world? How do people engage with these art forms and how can we describe this aesthetic experience? How do modernist works of art negotiate their social reality? Particularly, as that social reality is defined by transformation, war, or traumatic historical events. What is the value of modernist art both for academics and ordinary people today? My ongoing project is to address these questions through analyzing what and how modernist art makes meaning (formally, aesthetically, materially), as well as what it does in the world.
The highlight of 2018 was the publication of The Truth is Always Grey: A History of Modernist Painting,my third monograph, and my first on painting. The book argues that twentieth-century modernist grey painting dynamically interacts with the industrial world in which it is produced. Simultaneously, I demonstrate that grey has a critical place in the continued development of painting as a medium throughout European and American postwar modernity. The book was funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship (2013-2014).
In 2019, I will continue my work on the role of art in the infrastructural, geographical, social transformation of the Ruhr Valley, Germany in the wake of the closing of the coal mines and steel industry. This work is the culmination of many issues that have concerned my work over two decades: it focuses on the way that art has been central to the re-articulation of the identity of a region. Above all, the project explores how art (particularly public sculpture) is used to create new identities for a community that has been isolated and excluded within a post-industrial cultural landscape. This work developed out of my tenure at Ruhr University, Bochum from 2008-2010 for a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for the completion of Through Amateur Eyes. Film and Photography in Nazi Germany (published in 2011).
My research has been supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, 2016), The Leverhulme Trust (2003 & 2012), the European Commission FP7 (Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, 2008-2010), British Academy (2002 & 2006), and the AHRC (2001).
Beyond my academic writing, I am involved with the art world in various capacities. I write regularly on my blog, am European co-ordinator for the online platform www.artslant.com, for which I also take part in running a residency program for emerging artists in Paris. I take tours of exhibitions, curate, and work with young and emerging artists towards having their work exhibited. I am also a classically trained pianist. To keep up with these and my other activities, visit my website, follow me on twitter, read my blog, and buy my books.
I am currently working on Post-Industrial Views, a book that analyses the ongoing role of art in the transformation of the Ruhr Valley in Germany. Specifically, I focus on artworks that use the material of industry (steel, water, concrete, light, the body) to re-articulate a post-industrial identity for the region, its landscape, and its people. Within the larger project, I am working on another monograph, Steel: the Material of Art and Industry. This analyses the evolving relationship between steel and visual representation from the turn of the twentieth century to the turn of the twenty-first. Within this “century of steel” I focus on four pressure points: the love affair of cinema/photography and steel production at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth centuries; the role and representation of steel within the destruction of two world wars; the ambivalence of steel in minimalist sculpture in postwar America; the post-modernist return to a sculptural use of steel that searches for the humanism of steel.
Another manuscript-in-process, Cinematic Portrait Painting: (Not) about Gerhard Richter, marries my long fascination with the painting of Gerhard Richter and my intellectual commitment to cinema. Here, I explore qualities of Richter’s portraits--in the broadest sense of the genre—for their characteristics that are more commonly associated with cinema. My approach demonstrates the portraits’ engagement with infinite performance of simultaneous re-definition and eschewal of traditional notions of portraiture, the identity of the artist, subjects depicted, viewers, and spaces of exhibition.
I have written a memoir, Navigating, that traces a young woman’s journey from Australia to Europe on a Norwegian cargo liner in a search for home. The work extends my interests in questions of identity, exile, memory, and migration into creative writing. I have also published fictional stories and creative non-fiction essays that bring together my life long love of still and moving images, and my ongoing commitment to speaking about issues that concern women in the 21st century.
I believe that cinema is a discrete medium that can, nevertheless, only be understood within its cultural/historical context. My approach to teaching cinema and visual culture begins with analysis of the sensuous properties of images. It then extends to interdisciplinary interpretation. My teaching is motivated by the imperative to expand students’ intellectual worlds. Above all, I aim to introduce students to films, images and ideas that they would not otherwise know. In addition, I encourage students to draw on their knowledge and curiosity for literature, music, and other visual arts in an attempt to discover the complexity of the moving image.
I also present students with a variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the topic under discussion. This introduces students to ways of seeing and thinking that will take them to new levels of knowledge.
Visual culture; Image Studies; Holocaust Studies; Witnessing and Trauma Studies; Memory Studies;19th and 20th Century Realism; Critical Theory; Documentary Film; War and Cinema; Silent cinema, Modernity and visual culture; Cinema and the Other Arts; Marxism and Visual Culture; Images of War and Violence; Avant-garde and experimental cinema;
Writing for Film; History of German Cinema; Study of a Single Film; Major Directors: Lang, Von Sternberg, Ophüls; Cinema in 1920s Berlin, Paris, Moscow; Feminism in Film; Film History/Film Theory; History of British Cinema; History of Russian and Soviet Cinema; Avant-Garde and Experimental Cinema; European Realism; Introduction to World Cinemas; Language of Cinema; National Cinema; War and Cinema; Writing Workshop I; Writing Workshop II
Screening Histories: Post-war European Realism; Screening Histories: The Holocaust and Cinema; Silent Cinema and Modernity; Working with Film
I welcome dissertations with a focus on modernist and post-modernist (both loosely defined) art and visual cultures. I am happy to supervise dissertations housed within more traditional disciplinary fields of film studies and art history. I also welcome dissertations that take a visual studies' approach to still and/or moving images. Within these fields, I will supervise on:
• 20th century art and visual culture
• historical avant-garde;
• new and experimental art forms and aesthetics;
• amateur and small gauge forms and aesthetics;
• the role of images in trauma, witnessing, memory;
• the image as agent in the formation of cultural identity;
• questions of vision, visuality and perception;
• space, landscape, urban studies;
• images of war and violence;
• representations of migration, exile, and political oppression.
Guerin, F. (2018). The Truth Is Always Grey: A History of Modernist Painting. [Online]. Minneapolis, United States: University of Minnesota Press. Available at: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/the-truth-is-always-grey.
Frances Guerin argues that painters select grey to respond to a key question of modernist art: What is painting? Presenting an impressive range of canonical paintings across centuries, this book is a treatise on color that allows us to see something entirely new in familiar paintings and encourages our appreciation for the innovation and dynamism of the color grey.
Guerin, F. (2011). Through Amateur Eyes: Film and Photography in Nazi Germany. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Guerin, F. (2005). A Culture of Light: Cinema and Technology in 1920s Germany. [Online]. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. Available at: http://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/a-culture-of-light.
Guerin, F. (2015). On Not Looking:The Paradox of Contemporary Visual Culture. [Online]. Guerin, F. ed. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/On-Not-Looking-The-Paradox-of-Contemporary-Visual-Culture-1st-Edition/Guerin/p/book/9781138822351.
On Not Looking: The Paradox of Contemporary Visual Culture focuses on the image, and our relationship to it, as a site of "not looking." The collection demonstrates that even though we live in an image-saturated culture, many images do not look at what they claim, viewers often do not look at the images, and in other cases, we are encouraged by the context of exhibition not to look at images. Contributors discuss an array of images—photographs, films, videos, press images, digital images, paintings, sculptures, and drawings—from everyday life, museums and galleries, and institutional contexts such as the press and political arena. The themes discussed include: politics of institutional exhibition and perception of images; censored, repressed, and banned images; transformations to practices of not looking as a result of new media interventions; images in history and memory; not looking at images of bodies and cultures on the margins; responses to images of trauma; and embodied vision.
Hallas, R. and Guerin, F. eds. (2007). The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture. Wallflower Press.
Guerin, F. ed. (2017). European Photography Today. Journal of European Studies [Online] 47:331-469. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/jesa/47/4.
This issue engages the contemporary concerns of European photography today. Concerns discussed include: the fluidity of Europe’s borders, the commemoration and integration of mass violence, the marginalization of non-citizens, the fallout of the end of industrial capitalism, and the responsibility of the viewers of the photographs in which these issues are envisioned. In addition, the appropriateness of photography, as well as its inadequacy to the task of documenting and imagining the current challenges to Europe, is discussed.
Guerin, F. (2019). Un autre temps, un autre lieu. Retour sur les sculptures de Richard Serra dans la vallée de la Ruhr. Faces:45-72.
Guerin, F. (2018). Four White Walls. Hecate Journal 44:191-195.
Guerin, F. (2018). Invisibility Adores and Abhors a Photograph: Jane and Louise Wilson’s Moving Image Installations. Journal of Visual Art Practice [Online] 17:188-205. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/14702029.2018.1466453.
This article examines the power of invisibility to provoke and unsettle in two of the Wilson’s installations: Stasi City (1997) and A Free and Anonymous Monument (2003). The two installations are distinct, and by no means repeat their claims. Nevertheless, their juxtaposition gives insight into some of the different guises of invisibility threaded through two of the Wilson’s most visible installations. Through an exposure of the invisible, I argue that the Wilson sisters’ experimental images and installations are involved in a complex multi-layered critique of otherwise secret political and ideological structures, structures and systems that are in every way off-limits. The two installations do not just make visible what is invisible – state crimes, personal violation, abandonment, social neglect – they probe this invisibility and find what it is not permissible to visualize.
Guerin, F. (2017). Introduction: European Photography Today. Journal of European Studies [Online] 47:1-11. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0047244117733893.
This introduction briefly sketches the relationship between Europe and photography from its earliest days, through the experiments of the 1920s, and into the post-war years. This history is the background for approaching the contemporary concerns of European photography today. Concerns discussed include: the fluidity of Europe’s borders, the commemoration and integration of mass violence, the marginalization of non-citizens, the fallout of the end of industrial capitalism, and the responsibility of the viewers of the photographs in which these issues are envisioned. In addition, the appropriateness of photography, as well as its inadequacy to the task of documenting and imagining the current challenges to Europe, is discussed.
Guerin, F. (2017). Physically absent, visually present: Joachim Schumacher’s photographs of Germany’s Ruhr Valley. Journal of European Studies [Online] 47:1-19. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0047244117733899.
This article examines the photographs of Joachim Schumacher for their vision of a landscape haunted by the forgotten, the silenced and the increasingly invisible lives erased by the re-articulation of Germany’s Ruhr region. The article places Schumacher’s work in relationship to post-war German photography, both that which imagines the memories of World War II and the Holocaust, as well as the 1980s urban photographs of the Düsseldorf School photographers. Within this context, Schumacher’s photographs are understood for their location of place and history on the revitalized Ruhr landscape. In addition, the article considers the photographs in relationship to the New Topographics to demonstrate their simultaneous placelessness. In this international context, Schumacher’s photographs can be seen as indicative of a European placelessness that has emerged in the wake of the closure of mining and industry.
Guerin, F. (2017). The Ambiguity of Amateur Photography in Modern Warfare. New Literary History [Online] 48:53-74. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/nlh.2017.0002.
This article addresses a number of questions regarding the changing status and resultant interpretations of amateur photographs of war in the twentieth century. It reconsiders the photographs of the German army soldiers during World War II and the photographs taken in Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war with a view to finding a new approach to contemporary amateur photographs. This new approach shifts away from the study of the contents of the image to a focus on its ongoing reception and ideological effects. The article asks the following questions among others: Are amateur photographs of war and battlefields possible today? Or do amateur photographers and their portrayals of war belong to a bygone era? Have the provocations of amateur images that resist official versions of war been lost to the proliferation of digital possibilities, the overwhelming impact of consumer culture, and the domination of the mass media? Has the disquieting potential of the amateur vanished amid the glut of images of war and violence? If the answer to all these questions is no, then how can we identify amateur photographs of war?
Guerin, F. and Eisenberg, D. (2012). Archives and Images as Repositories of Time, Language, and Forms from the Past: A Conversation with Daniel Eisenberg. The Moving Image [Online] 12:112-118. Available at: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/the_moving_image/v012/12.1.guerin.pdf.
Guerin, F. (2012). Obfuscations of the Visible: Creating Memory through not looking at Christian Boltanski’s Archives. Cinema e Cie: International Film Studies Journal [Online]:279-284. Available at: http://cinemaetcie.net/.
Guerin, F. (2010). Film as an Archive for Photography: The Portraitist as Witness to the Holocaust. Screening the Past [Online]. Available at: http://tlweb.latrobe.edu.au/humanities/screeningthepast/29/film-archive-photography-portraitist-witness-holocaust.html.
Guerin, F. (2008). Infinite Rotations in a Finite Frame: A Tacita Dean Tryptich. Cinéma e Cie: International Film Studies Journal N/A:119-134.
Guerin, F. (2006). The Perpetrator in Focus: Turn of the Century Holocaust Remembrance in "The Specialist". Law Text Culture [Online] 10:167-193. Available at: http://ro.uow.edu.au/ltc/vol10/iss1/10/.
In his controversial 1998 film, The Specialist, Israeli director Eyal Sivan casts the Holocaust in a new light
when he represents it through the eyes of the Nazi perpetrator. Sivan and his scriptwriter, human rights
activist Rony Brauman, re-assemble and manipulate footage originally filmed by Leo Hurwitz for Capital
Cities Broadcasting of Adolf Eichmann’s trial by an Israeli court in Jerusalem in 1961. Specifically, Sivan
recycles the video footage of the trial into a 16mm film that critiques, not the heinous nature of Eichmann’s
crimes, nor the depravity of the man who committed them, but the system of regulation that constructed and
judged Eichmann. While the video footage was originally filmed as a document of the trial, Sivan radically
redeploys the same images in a narrative that exposes the manipulations of the court, its representations and
the continued injustice of such institutions and representations today, 45 years later. According to The
Specialist, Eichmann’s actions are not on trial; they are a foregone conclusion. To prove Eichmann’s guilt or
innocence was not the point of the trial in the first place, and it is certainly not the goal of The Specialist.
Through its careful weaving of fragments of the proceedings, over the course of its narrative, The Specialist
reveals the relationship of otherness — the differences and identicalities — between Adolf Eichmann, the
‘deportation specialist’ and Attorney General Gideon Hausner for the prosecution. Simultaneously, the film
considers the relationship between Eichmann and the crimes of the National Socialist Party as they were
forged by the Israeli court.
Guerin, F. (2004). The energy of disappearing: problems of recycling Nazi amateur film footage. Screening the Past [Online]:0-0. Available at: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast.
Guerin, F. (2003). Dazzled by the Light. Cinema Journal [Online] 42:98-115. Available at: http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/journals/cinema-journal.
Guerin, F. (2003). Opposite or Complementary Conceptions? What do Rudolf Arnheim and Michel Chion have in Common?. Cinema e Cie: International Film Studies Journal [Online] 32:129-140. Available at: http://cinemaetcie.net/.
Guerin, F. (2002). Reframing the Photographer and his Photographs: Photographer (1995). Film and History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies [Online] 32:43-54. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/flm.2002.0064.
Guerin, F. (1994). Enduring the Vagaries: The Viewer as Master and Slave in Pasolini’s Salò,. Melbourne Journal of Politics [Online] 22:45-65. Available at: http://mjp.arts.unimelb.edu.au/.
Guerin, F. (2019). Even If She Had Been a Criminal. A Past Unwatched. In: Baer, N., Hennefeld, M., Horak, L. and Iversen, G. eds. Unwatchable. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. Available at: https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/unwatchable/9780813599595.
Guerin, F. (2018). Behind the Mask. In: Suto, F. ed. Midnight Masquerade: A Masquerade Anthology. Fantasia Divinity, pp. 6-25.
Guerin, F. (2016). The Revellation and Resistance of Amateur Images at War: Thessaloniki in the Byron Metos collection. In: Museum of Byzantine Culture, T. ed. Representations of the Nazi Occupation: Photography, History, Memory. Thessaloniki, Greece: Museum of Byzantine Culture, pp. 62-80.
Guerin, F. (2015). Peripatetic Sculpture: The Exhaustion of Looking in the Presence of Richard Serra’s Promenade. In: Guerin, F. ed. On Not Looking: The Paradox of Contemporary Visual Culture. New York: Routledge, pp. 103-122. Available at: http://www.routledgementalhealth.com/books/details/9781138822351/.
Guerin, F. (2015). While Not Looking: The Failure to See and to Know in Dr Mabuse der Spieler, and The Testament of Dr Mabuse. In: McElhaney, J. ed. A Companion to Fritz Lang (Wiley Blackwell Companions to Film Directors). New York: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 43-62. Available at: http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470670975.html.
Guerin, F. (2015). Searching in Grey: Cy Twombly’s Untitled Paintings. In: Wedekind, G. ed. Die Farbe Grau. DeGruyter.
Guerin, F. (2014). The Corporealization of Memory in Christian Boltanski’s Installations. In: Memoryscapes. Zurich: Diaphanes, pp. 157-177. Available at: https://www.diaphanes.net/titel/memoryscapes-2580.
Guerin, F. (2013). Memory through the Perpetrator’s Lens: Witnessing via Images Taken by Wehrmacht Soldiers and Officers on the Eastern Front. In: Rhetoric, Remembrance, and Visual Form: Sighting Memory. New York: Routledge, pp. 163-179.
Guerin, F. (2012). Dislocations: videograms of a revolution and the search for images. In: Ginsberg, T. and Mensch, A. eds. A Companion to German Cinema. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 483-506.
Guerin, F. (2012). A Generation Later and Still Unrepresentable? Fassbinder and the Red Army Fraction. In: A Companion to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 441-460.
Guerin, F. (2011). The Placement of Shadows: What’s inside William Kentridge’s Black Box/Chambre Noire?. In: Rhodes, J. D. and Gorfinkel, E. eds. Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 233-254.
Guerin, F. (2011). Locating Shadows: What’s inside William Kentridge’s Black Box?. In: John David, R. ed. Taking Place: Location and the Moving Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 233-253. Available at: http://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/taking-place.
Guerin, F. (2009). Photographs that Forget: Contemporary Recyclings of the Hitler-Hoffmann Rednerposen. In: Plate, L. and Smelik, A. eds. Technologies of Memory in the Arts. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 150-165.
Guerin, F. (2008). Radical Aspirations Historicized: The European Commitment to Political Documentary. In: Kolker, R. ed. The Oxford Handbook of Film and Media Studies. New York: Oxford university Press, pp. 114-151. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-oxford-handbook-of-film-and-media-studies-9780195175967?cc=gb&lang=en&.
Guerin, F. and Hallas, R. (2007). Introduction to The Image and the Witness. In: The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture. London: Wallflower Press.
Controversy over visual imagery of trauma and disaster has never been greater. "The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture" is thus a timely interdisciplinary collection of new essays about the ethical stakes of the image in our visually-saturated age. This book explores the interrelated issues of the role of the material image in bearing witness to historical events and the visual representation of witnesses to collective trauma. In arguing for the agency of the image, this unique collection engages in important debates over post-traumatic memory, documentary ethics, embodied vision and the recycling of images. The book discusses works by Chris Marker, Errol Morris, Derek Jarman, Doris Salcedo, Gerhard Richter and Boris Mikhailov, alongside images from popular culture, including websites and home movies.
Kear, J. (2007). A Game That Must Be Lost: Chris Marker Replays Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour. In: Guerin, F. and Hallas, R. eds. The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture. Wallflower Press, pp. 129-142.
Guerin, F. (2007). The Gray Space Between: Gerhard Richter’s 18. Oktober 1977 (1989). In: Guerin, F. and Hallas, R. eds. The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture. London: Wallflower Press, pp. 111-126. Available at: http://cup.columbia.edu/book/the-image-and-the-witness/9781905674190.
Guerin, F. (2004). When Beginnings and Endings Distort the Past. In: Limina/Le Soglie Del Film. Udine: Lithostampa, Pasian di Prato, pp. 247-254.
Guerin, F. (2004). Explorations of Light and Lighting in Und das Licht Erlosch (1914). In: Gaudreault, A. ed. The Cinema: A New Technology for the 20th Century. Lausanne: Payot, pp. 219-228. Available at: http://www.domitor.org/conf/conf-2002.html#publications.
Guerin, F. (2019). Aesthetic Spaces: The Place of Art in Film by Brigitte Peucker. Film Quarterly [Online] 73:107-109. Available at: https://fq.ucpress.edu/content/73/1/107.
Guerin, F. (2011). Vanessa Corby, Eva Hesse: Longing, Belonging and Displacement. Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History [Online] 17:137-139. Available at: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/bahs/holocaust_studies/index.page.
Guerin, F. (2009). Kristen Whissel, Picturing American Modernity: Traffic, Technology, and the Silent Cinema,. Screening the Past [Online] n/a:n/a-n/a. Available at: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/26/picturing-american-modernity.html.
Guerin, F. (2006). McCormick and Guenther-Pal, eds, German Essays on Film (2004). Film-Philosophy [Online] 10:95-100. Available at: http://www.film-philosophy.com/index.php/f-p.
Guerin, F. (2003). Weltwunder der Kinematographie. Film History auf DVD, Polzer Media Group, Potsdam, 2002. The Moving Image: Association of Moving Image Archivists [Online] 4:123-126. Available at: http://www.amianet.org/resources-and-publications/publications/journal.
Guerin, F. (2020). Cinematic Portrait Painting: (Not) About Gerhard Richter. Under Review.
What do we see if we place the cinematic attributes of Gerhard Richter’s portraits in the foreground? This single-authored book explores the intersection of Richter’ portraits with the aesthetics and hermeneutics of the cinema. As a result, the book reveals the fluidity and ambivalence of each portrait and the mise-en-abîme of meaning created between and across Richter’s oeuvre more generally. In turn, when these interpretations are further explained through discourses on cinema, they reveal a new way of seeing and knowing at the end of modernity. The portraits present an infinite performance of the transgression, re-definition and eschewal of traditional notions of portraiture, the identity of painting, subjects depicted, viewers, and the spaces and institutions of exhibition.
Guerin, F. (2019). Jacqueline Humphries. Lund Humphries.
Guerin, F. (2019). Discursive Sites of Memory: Landschaftspark, Duisburg as Archive for Industry. In: Rethinking the Past: Memory / Archive / Document - Arts and Architecture. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Guerin, F. (2018). The Politics of Jasper Johns’s Gray American Flags. In: Wagner, A. ed. Flags, Color, and the Legal Narrative: Public Memory, Identity, and Critique. Frankfurt: Springer.
Guerin, F. (2016). Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. In: Gabbard, K. ed. Oxford Bibliographies in Cinema and Media Studies. Oxford University Press.
A peer-reviewed, annotated bibliography of works on the life and films of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau.
Law, J. (2014). Materialising the Unseen: The Multisensory Cinema of the Invisible Body.
The long century of western cinema has produced numerous depictions of invisible bodies – those bodies that function as any other, save for the distinctive feature of their invisibility. The invisible body challenges conventions of cinematic production, presentation and reception, suggesting an ‘extra-visual’ cinema. But, as well as this, the invisible body also challenges conceptions of the limits and categorisation of the human sensorium. In tracing a sensory history of invisible bodies, this thesis is concerned with how such depictions connect with and contribute to constructions of the senses in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This thesis thus makes an original contribution to knowledge by asking: What kind of history of the senses can be found in the onscreen invisible body? In doing so, this thesis engages a film theory of the senses that asks what the depiction of the invisible body – itself a delicate cultural construction that has no direct equivalent in nature – brings to a cultural understanding of the modern sensorium.
Chapter One introduces the sensualities of the invisible body in Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924). Chapter Two connects the imagery of The Invisible Man cycle (1933–1951) with a tendency towards sensory reconfiguration. Chapter Three addresses a Cold War phase of invisible extraterrestrials in terms of technologised sensory extension. Chapter Four identifies the late twentieth-century onscreen invisible body as representative of a reconstituted social sensorium. Finally, Chapter Five analyses sequences from The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003), interpreting invisible embodiment in relation to the disorientations of both pain and intersensoriality. Through my approach, I connect the multisensory with the multidisciplinary, identifying the unsettling character of the onscreen invisible body as a consequence of its taxonomical unsettling of sensory and media boundaries.