Screening Characters : Theories of Character in Film, Television, and Interactive Media book cover
1st Edition

Screening Characters
Theories of Character in Film, Television, and Interactive Media

ISBN 9781138391826
Published March 12, 2019 by Routledge
332 Pages

SAVE ~ $31.00
was $155.00
USD $124.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Characters are central to our experiences of screened fictions and invite a host of questions. The contributors to Screening Characters draw on archival material, interviews, philosophical inquiry, and conceptual analysis in order to give new, thought-provoking answers to these queries. Providing multifaceted accounts of the nature of screen characters, contributions are organized around a series of important subjects, including issues of class, race, ethics, and generic types as they are encountered in moving image media. These topics, in turn, are personified by such memorable figures as Cary Grant, Jon Hamm, Audrey Hepburn, and Seul-gi Kim, in addition to avatars, online personalities, animated characters, and the ensembles of shows such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.

Table of Contents


List of Figures


Notes on Contributors

Foreword: Consorting with Characters

Murray Smith

Introduction: Screening Characters

Johannes Riis and Aaron Taylor

Part 1: The Importance of Actors

1. Seeing and Hearing Screen Characters: Stars, Twofoldness, and the Imagination

Ted Nannicelli

2. Character and the Star Vehicle: The Impact of Casting Cary Grant

Kathrina Glitre

3. Character Collaborations: The Writer-Actor Relationship in Mad Men

R. Colin Tait


Part 2: Social Types, Social Contexts

4. Being Typical and Being Individual

Henry Bacon

5. The Mark of the Social: Stereotypes, Folk Psychology and Metonymy in Mainstream Film

Tico Romao

6. Racialized Disgust and Character in Film

Dan Flory


Part 3: Medium-Specific Features and Constraints

7. Impossible Characterizations

Paisley Livingston

8. Performative Metamorphosis: Animated Characters and Spectator Proximity

Pete Sillett

9. Social Media as Interface, or How Characters Enter Our Everyday Reality

Philippe Gauthier

10. Owning Our Actions: Identification with Avatars in Video Games

Andreas Gregersen


Part 4: Emotional and Moral Engagement

11. Ethical Criticism and Fictional Characters as Moral Agents

Carl Plantinga

12. Absorbed Character Engagement: From Social Cognition Responses to the Experience of Fictional Constructions

Katalin Bálint and Ed Tan

13. "Familiarity Breeds Contempt:" Why Fascination, Rather than Repeat Exposure, Better Explains the Appeal of Antiheroes on Television

Malcolm Turvey


Part 5: The Character within Genres

14. Girls Who Can Leap Through Time: Shojo and Time Travel in East Asian Media

Jinhee Choi

15. Action and Affordances: The Action Hero’s Skilled and Surprising Use of the Environment

Birger Langkjær and Charlotte Sun Jensen

16. Introducing Characters in Television Crime Series: Stylistic and Narrative Strategies

Lennard Højbjerg


View More



Johannes Riis is an Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Copenhagen. He has published extensively on issues of film acting, including a monograph (Spillets kunst: Følelser i film); articles in numerous journals and anthologies, including Cinema Journal, Projections, and The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film. A member of the Board of Directors at The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image since 2005, he is currently writing a book on film acting styles between 1920 and 1980.

Aaron Taylor is an Associate Professor of New Media and a Board of Governors Research Chair (2019-2023) at the University of Lethbridge. He is the editor of Theorizing Film Acting, and his essays on performance have been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Cinema Journal, Velvet Light Trap, [in]Transition, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, The Journal of Film and Video, Close-Up: Great Cinematic Performances Vol. 2, Make Ours Marvel, Millennial Masculinity, Acting and Performance in Moving Image Culture, and Stages of Reality.


"This book is a remarkably accessible collection of essays on some of the most theoretically complex aspects of actors and acting on film and in other media. It also covers a wide selection of films, TV-series, and computer games, making it a standard work in the fields of Cognitive Film Studies, Philosophy and Film, and even Celebrity Studies."  --Erik Hedling, Professor, Lund University, Sweden