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The Anatomy of Grotesque: Abject, Excess, and Transgression in Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinemas

JURICIC, TONI (2022) The Anatomy of Grotesque: Abject, Excess, and Transgression in Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinemas. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Throughout the history of Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinemas, the grotesque presented itself as one of the vehicles for exposing the undercurrent of a politically, economically and ethnically diverse socialist society. The multicultural background and the socio-political transformations that have characterised the complex nature of the (post)Yugoslav space have frequently been challenged by film auteurs; this doctoral project focuses on those films and filmmakers who conjoined film and variegated forms of grotesque to critically question the society they lived in by decentring the established system(s) of representation. Thus, the thematic emphasis of the project is on the manifestations of the cinematic grotesque in the (post-)Yugoslav cinema. Its main research question, however, will be to interpret this phenomenon of breaking with official cultural discourses, either socialist-Yugoslav or post- socialist/post-Yugoslav as a particular strategy of transcending the constraints of certain representational platforms and seizing upon the alternative ways of cinematic telling. By implementing what I would tentatively term a cross-disciplinary approach to the moving image, this thesis will inaugurate three dominant tendencies of the grotesque in (post-)Yugoslav cinema, which I will term socialist, transitional, and post-transitional grotesque. Utilised by the Yugoslav filmmakers from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, the socialist grotesque challenges and upsets the ideologically established system of representation by deploying a variety of visual devices. The transitional grotesque comes into being with the dissolution of the Yugoslav federal state in the 1990s and it is used by the filmmakers as an instrument of dehumanisation and self-indulgence. As the final tendency, the post-transitional grotesque challenges the socialist legacy and the fallout of the transitional process that has continued to plague the post-Yugoslav space during the 2000s. In methodological terms, the examination of the three tendencies of the grotesque in (post-)Yugoslav cinema will draw on the works of Georges Bataille, Julia Kristeva, and Mikhail Bakhtin and their investigations into the excess, abject and carnivalesque. In so doing, by channelling the grotesque and its forms into film studies broadly speaking, this study will have a twofold aim. Firstly, it will strive to extend our knowledge of the representational capacities of Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinemas; but ultimately, the thesis will seek to put forward an adequate, still novel enough approach to understanding the interaction between the on-screen reality and socio-political context.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:yugoslav cinema, grotesque, abject, film, transgression,
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Jan 2023 10:28

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