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Picturing Dissolving Views: August Strindberg and the Visual Media of His Age
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Cinema Studies.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The subject of this study is August Strindberg’s interaction with the visual media of his day. Its dual aim is to examine Strindberg’s work in the light of media history and to allow Strindberg’s work in turn to illuminate the media history of the fin de siècle. Taking its cue from the commonplace scholarly observation that Strindberg’s drama, particularly that of his later phase, is strikingly “cinematic”, it asks: What do such comparisons really tell us about Strindberg’s art and what, if anything, do they tell us about cinema?

The thesis of this study is that the putatively “cinematic” style of Strindberg’s writings can only be understood against the backdrop of a mass culture, oriented towards the visual sense, which was undergoing rapid expansion at the turn of the last century. In devising his “dream play techniques”, it argues, Strindberg both drew on and reacted against various image-based modes of representation that had become extremely widespread in the late nineteenth century. The loss of reality that is so prominent a feature of works such as To Damascus (1898) or A Dream Play (1901) should in this sense be regarded as marked by an experience of mediatization, that is, the steady incorporation of all aspects of daily life by mass media technologies. Shifting the spotlight away from cinema, a critical encounter with Strindberg’s work can cast light on largely overlooked media practices such as magic lantern or Sciopticon exhibition, panoramic entertainments, instantaneous photography, and the introduction of the halftone process in printing. At the same time as it unsettles received notions of Strindberg’s drama as “cinematic”, the study seeks to show how the writings of this revolutionary artist can provide fresh material for a reassessment of life in a media-saturated age.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2007. , 250 p.
Stockholm cinema studies, ISSN 1653-4859 ; 7
Keyword [en]
August Strindberg, media history, 1870–1912, visual culture, media in literature, Sweden, early cinema, magic lantern, panorama, instantaneous photography, graphic reproduction, theatre, science, perception
National Category
Studies on Film
Research subject
Cinema Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7024ISBN: 978-91-85445-70-7OAI: diva2:197486
Public defence
2007-09-14, föreläsningssalen, Filmhuset, Borgvägen 5, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-08-23 Created: 2007-08-22 Last updated: 2012-08-23Bibliographically approved

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