Theorizing Film Acting: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Theorizing Film Acting

1st Edition

Edited by Aaron Taylor


316 pages | 38 B/W Illus.

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This comprehensive collection provides theoretical accounts of the grounds and phenomenon of film acting. The volume features entries by some of the most prominent scholars on film acting who collectively represent the various theoretical traditions that constitute the discipline of film studies. Each section proposes novel ways of considering the recurring motifs in academic enquiries into film acting, including: (1) the mutually contingent problematic of description and interpretation, (2) the intricacies of bodily dynamics and their reception by audiences, (3) the significance of star performance, and (4) the impact of evolving technologies and film styles on acting traditions.



"This book successfully bridges the gap between the non-specialist’s experience of film acting and the film theorist’s analysis of that experience. Moreover, because the book acknowledges and respects filmgoers, it allows them, in turn, to acknowledge and respect film theorists. And this is a remarkable achievement."

--Richard Brestoff, University of California, Irvine

"Given the powerful influence that film acting has on our communities, Theorizing Film Acting strikes me as a moral imperative for all those wishing to encourage reflection on a cultural force that continues to shape our psyches."

--Mary Angiolillo, FAMU, Prague

Table of Contents

Introduction: Acting, Casually and Theoretically Speaking, Aaron Taylor I. Aesthetics: Understanding and Interpreting Film Acting 1. Acting Matters: Noting Performance in Three Films, Brenda Austin-Smith 2. Living Meaning: The Fluency of Film Performance, Andrew Klevan 3. Play-Acting: A Theory of Comedic Performance, Alex Clayton 4. Performed Performance and The Man Who Knew Too Much, Murray Pomerance 5. Brando Sings! The Invincible Star Persona, George Toles II. Reception: Film Acting, Audiences and Communities 6. "Look at Me!": A Phenomenology of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Joerg Sternagel 7. Is Acting a Form of Simulation or Being? Acting and Mirror Neurons, William Brown 8. The Bond That Unbinds By Binding: Acting Mythology and the Film Community, Kevin Esch 9. From Being to Acting: Performance in Cult Cinema, Ernest Mathijs 10. Acting and Performance in Home Movies and Amateur Films, Liz Czach III. Culture: Film History, Industry and the Vicissitudes of Star Acting 11. Story and Show: The Basic Contradiction of Film Star Acting, Paul McDonald 12. The Screen Actor’s "First Self" and "Second Self": John Wayne and Coquelin’s Acting Theory, Sharon Marie Carnicke 13. Acting Like a Star: Florence Turner, Picture Personality, Charlie Keil 14. Niche Stars and Acting "Gay," Christine Holmlund IV. Apparatus: Technology, Film Form and the Actor 15. What Becomes of the Camera in the World on Film? William Rothman 16. Sonic Bodies: Listening as Acting, Jennifer M. Barker 17. Dance of the Übermarionettes: Toward a Contemporary Screen Actor Training, Sean Aita 18. Articulating Digital Stardom, Barry King

About the Editor

Aaron Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of New Media at the University of Lethbridge. His recent publications on film acting can be found in Quarterly Review of Film and Video (2012), Acting and Performance in Moving Image Culture (2012), and Stages of Reality: Theatricality in Cinema (2011). He has recently written on It’s a Wonderful Life for the Cultographies series.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Film Studies

This series is our home for innovative research in the field of film studies. It includes monographs and targeted edited collections that provide new insights into this important and evolving subject area.


To submit a proposal for this series, please contact:
Suzanne Richardson, Commissioning Editor for Media, Cultural and Communication Studies

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Film & Video
PERFORMING ARTS / Acting & Auditioning
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies