Cavell on film, television, and opera

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Writing about movies has been strand over strand with Stanley Cavell's philosophical life, from The World Viewed, published between Must We Mean What We Say? and The Senses of Walden, to Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage, a companion piece to The Claim of Reason, to Contesting Tears: Hollywood Melodramas of the Unknown Woman, his most recent book about film. Film has also figured importantly in numerous other essays and occasional pieces. And he has also reflected, philosophically, on other artistic media, such as television and opera, which bear an intimate relationship to film. Cavell is the only major American philosopher who has made the subject of film a central part of his work. Yet to many philosophers, the relation of his writings on film to his explicitly philosophical writings remains perplexing; and within the field of film study, the potential usefulness of philosophy - as he understands and practices it - remains generally unrecognized. It has long been one of Cavell's guiding intuitions that a marriage between philosophy and film is not only possible but also necessary. Over the years, his vision of such a marriage has been an unfailing source of inspiration for me, and for the authors whose writings about film I find most fruitful. What follows is an account, at times unavoidably sketchy, of some of the leading thoughts in Cavell's three books about film, in “The Fact of Television,” and in “Opera and the Lease of Voice” (Chapter 3 of A Pitch of Philosophy) and the recent “Opera in and as Film.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStanley Cavell
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9780511613944
ISBN (Print)0521779723, 9780521770255
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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