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A cinema of fatal attractions: viewing genre through borderline personality disorder

dc.contributor.authorBylina, Lisabeth Ann, author
dc.contributor.authorDiffrient, David S., advisor
dc.contributor.authorBradfield, Shelley-Jean, committee member
dc.contributor.authorThompson, Deborah, committee member
dc.description.abstractGenre study is often criticized for simply producing classificatory labels and focusing on a narrow group of films such as the Western and the musical. This thesis argues that the proper role of the critic is to move beyond such categorizing exercises and to bring relevance and renewed value to genre theories. In order to question the relatively rigid and canonical nature of film genre studies and the commonly assumed notion that one knows a genre when he or she sees it, this study looks at cinematic representations of borderline personality disorder (BPD). While work has been done on cinematic representations of mental illness, little research has focused on the portrayal of specific psychological disorders, particularly how such portrayals function generically. BPD was chosen for its high lifetime prevalence, which may be as high as 5.9 percent in the United States, as well as for its occurrence in feature-length motion pictures. Typically these films, including Fatal Attraction (1987) and Girl, Interrupted (1999), would be generically classified as dissimilar, but through this study a corpus of films portraying BPD is put forth as examples of the BPD genre. To accomplish this, this study follows Tom Gunning's assertion that the focus of analysis should not only be the corpus of films, but also the discourse surrounding those films. These external texts are referred to in this paper as paratexts, in keeping with Gérard Genette and Jonathan Grey's terminology. Therefore, the films' titles, title sequences, and posters were included in the analysis. The films were examined utilizing Rick Altman's semantic/syntactic/pragmatic approach to genre analysis. By viewing these films and their paratexts through a BPD genre lens, conventions and audience expectations characteristic of the BPD genre are explored. Like BPD, genre is recognized through the meeting of criteria, but not all instances meet all the same criteria or in the same way, and as such they need not relate to their genre in the same manner. Also, texts may be comorbid with other genres or exist in a continuum. Genre may be understood as functioning like BPD and its use in this study shows renewed application beyond traditional genre analysis.
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dc.format.mediummasters theses
dc.publisherColorado State University. Libraries
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dc.titleA cinema of fatal attractions: viewing genre through borderline personality disorder
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