French and Francophone Studies
Narrating for-the-other: French and Francophone Cinema as Testimony of the Extreme
In this project, Andrew Jones analyzes French-language narrative films in the context of the Holocaust, colonialism, and the gulag. Building on the investigation he conducted in his article, “Art and Logic: Godard’s Alphaville as Philosophy” (Studies in French Cinema 17.2 (2017): 165-181), which focused on how film engages and challenges traditional philosophic discourse, he is now extending the notion of film-philosophy to testimony in dialogue with the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Starting from Otherwise than Being, where Levinas argues that responsibility for “the other” is constitutive of subjectivity, which in turn can find expression in testimony, he posits that cinema has the ability to “testify.” This project combines historical, philosophical, and aesthetic approaches to extreme situations in a fresh way, by foregrounding the philosophical dimension without losing sight of historical specificities. Through the analysis of a corpus of six films, which includes both fiction films and documentaries, Jones distills the precise cinematic and narrative means by which these films succeed in achieving ethical import by acting as a type of testimony.