Film Narrative and Embodied Cognition: The Impact of Image Schemas on Narrative Form.

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    Vittorio Gallese and Michele Guerra’s seminal article on the relation between embodied simulation and Film Studies mentions ‘at least three types of embodiment related to cinema: i) film style as embodiment; ii) acting style as embodiment; iii) viewer’s responses to filmed bodies and objects as embodiment’ (206, my emphasis). I would like to extend Gallese and Guerra’s typology with another domain through which embodied cognition relates to cinema. By revealing some of the physiological, psychological, and environmental constraints and constituents of viewers’ meaning making processes in film, this chapter brings narrative theories and embodied cognitive approaches into collaboration, exposing the relation between film narrative and embodied cognition. Generally, the following chapter addresses the question ‘how the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of the minimal embodied and ecologically embedded self give rise to [film] narratives’ (Menary Embodied Narratives 75). Specifically, my contribution aims to unravel the initial, pre-cognitive part of a complex process that guides one’s narrative meaning making activity. While I will touch upon the theory of cognitive mental models and their relation to the invocation of narrative models, the main focus will be on embodied image schemas, as dynamic patterns of our shared bodily interactions, and their formative role in the initiation of elementary narrative schemas, as deeply embodied, internally organized formal gestalts.
    The present chapter consists of five parts. Following an introduction and a concise overview of the relevant aspects of (1) embodied cognition and (2) image schemas, I present a working definition of (3) narrative form that corresponds with the introduced theoretical approach. Narrowing down my focus to viewers’ meaning making processes of organizing information into intelligible forms (4), the chapter offers an attempt at connecting embodied and cognitive (that is embodied-cognitive) approaches with narrative theories, supporting a general explanatory model of understanding narrative film. Lastly, (5) the presented theoretical arguments will be illustrated through examples that elucidate the reliance of various narrative forms on embodied cognition. In order to confine theoretical redundancy among the chapters of this volume to the minimum, I have kept the overview of embodied cognition brief, and have chosen to concentrate on its specific relevance to the construction and comprehension of narrative forms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEmbodied Cognition and Cinema
    EditorsMaarten Coëgnarts, Peter Kravanja
    PublisherLeuven University Press
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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