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The Woodgrain of the Chessboard: A Response to Roy Germano

  • Henry Farrell

Abstract

Roy Germano argues for an “analytic filmmaking,” which would use film as a means to elucidate social scientific laws and generalizations. Yet film, even when it seeks simply to document the truth, is a form of narrative. To strip these ambiguities away in the name of a crude empiricism would rob these narratives of just that kind of information that makes them most valuable—the subtleties and nuances that they can capture and that simple transcripts cannot. Better models for understanding film can be found either in the direct acknowledgment and exploration of these ambiguities, or, alternatively, in the “analytic narratives” approach. Unlike Germano’s analytic film making, which prizes the abstract over the particular, analytic narratives gather their energy from the continuing tension between the particular and the abstraction.

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References

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Bates, Robert, Greif, Avner, Levi, Margaret, Rosenthal, Jean-Pierre and Weingast, Barry. 1998. Analytic Narratives. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Calvino, Italo. 1978. Invisible Cities. New York: Harcourt and Brace.
Geertz, Clifford. 1973. “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture.” In Theorizing Culture: Selected Essays, ed. Geertz, Clifford. New York: Basic.
Irwin, Robert. 1983. The Arabian Nightmare. London: Dedalus.
Levi, Margaret. 2002. “Modeling Complex Historical Processes with Analytic Narratives.” In Akteure, Mechanismen, Modelle. Zur Theoriefähigkeit makro-sozialer Analysen, ed. Mayntz, Renate. Frankfurt: Campus Verlag: .
Spufford, Francis. June 11 2012. “Red Plenty Seminar: Response,” Crooked Timber. http://crookedtimber.org/2012/06/11/response-part-i/ (accessed June 15, 2014).
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Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
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