Sunday, October 8, 2017

Cleo Hanaway-Oakley's "James Joyce and the Phenomenology of Film"

Cleo Hanaway-Oakley was awarded her doctorate from the University of Oxford in 2013 after having completed a BA in English and Philosophy and an MA in Twentieth-century Literature at the University of Leeds. Her work is concerned with the interrelations between literature, philosophy, film, culture, and science. She is Founder and Chair of Oxford Phenomenology Network, an international group of interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners interested in all aspects of phenomenological thought and practice. She currently works at the University of Oxford in the role of Knowledge Exchange Facilitator and as a tutor at various Oxford colleges.

Hanaway-Oakley applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, James Joyce and the Phenomenology of Film, and reported the following:
My book spans three disciplines: literature, philosophy, and film studies. Page 99 of my book focuses only on the latter two. In this sense, the page is not representative of the book as a whole. However, the page contains analyses which are central to my overall argument, to my contention that modern artists – be they writers or film-makers – were supremely interested in the world-as-it-is-lived, the world as it is directly experienced by an always already bodily-and-subjective consciousness.

Interestingly, page 99 of my book features a discussion which is particularly germane to the ‘page 99 test’. I talk about gestalt theory. Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka famously stated that ‘the whole is other than the sum of the parts’; by this, he meant that we do not merely perceive a set of elements added together – when we view an object or a scene we directly and immediately (without any intellectual effort or rationalizing) see it as a unified totality that makes sense to us. For example, when we look at a cube, we do not see a collection of 2-D squares – we see a 3-D cube. Similarly, when we read a book we are not experiencing 350,000 letters, 60,000 words, or 200 pages – we are experiencing a conceptual whole, whether that whole is a story or a thesis. If we were to duplicate the ideas presented on page 99 a further 199 times, we would not end up with the complete book – we would have something rather different.

Conspicuously absent from page 99 of my book is the writer James Joyce. Joyce was a contemporary of Ford Madox Ford, but I have no idea how he felt about Ford’s ‘page 99 test’. Let us give it a go with Joyce’s Ulysses (Gabler Edition). On page 99, we find what appear to be two newspaper articles, denoted by capitalised headlines. Are we to assume, from this, that Ulysses is just one long newspaper? In one sense, this is a fair summation – the book delivers news of various goings-on in and around Dublin on 16 June 1904. But, as my monograph demonstrates, these goings-on are not communicated via a single reporter; Joyce employs multiple perspectives and devices, all of the time conveying the experience of fully-embodied and enworlded conscious beings.
Visit Cleo Hanaway-Oakley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue