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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:52362
Doc. No:TL22316
Call number:‭3213058‬
Main Entry:Leslie Anne Lewis
Title & Author:Trading in withered flesh: Mummies, movies and modernityLeslie Anne Lewis
College:Northwestern University
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:314
Abstract:Egypt has long been a presence in Western culture, and images of Egypt have been a mass-culture staple since the nineteenth century. Based upon information gleaned from isolated artifacts and fanciful travelers' tales, the "Egypt" known to the West was primarily a product of the Orientalist imagination. But this image of Egypt begins to change at the turn of the twentieth century with the development of cinema. In early non-fiction films and travelogues, Egypt becomes a real place with living inhabitants; in fiction films, Egypt's latent supernatural potential is unleashed through techniques only possible in this modern medium. In other words, the advent of cinema marks a fundamental change in the Western representation of Egypt. Motion pictures help to disturb three fundamental dichotomies that had ruled Western conceptualizations of Egypt in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries: control/rebellion, modern/ancient, and life/death. By examining silent and early-sound films about both ancient and modern Egypt, this dissertation argues that these initially clear divisions soon become blurred, in part due to Egypt's depiction in the cinema. The study begins with an historical analysis of nineteenth and early twentieth-century non-film uses of Egypt---including the culture's influence on Western art, architecture, archaeology, and linguistics---focusing especially on the study, use, and abuse of mummies in a variety of settings. Chapters Two and Three consider silent films, non-fiction and fiction respectively. It is here, in the first thirty years of cinema, that Western perceptions of Egypt begin to unravel. This is thanks not only to cultural and political changes of the period, but also to the ways in which they are presented cinematically: modern Egypt emerges from the background, and the formerly controlled, static objects of ancient Egypt become animated and unruly. Finally, Chapter Four focuses on a milestone film in the representation of Egypt, The Mummy (1932). This close textual analysis demonstrates that the themes that had defined Egypt for the West in the past are now in flux as the formerly controlled, ancient Other makes itself known, presenting a new, horrific face to the modern world.
Subject:Communication and the arts; Egypt; Modernity; Movies; Mummies; Travelogues; Motion pictures; 0900:Motion pictures
Added Entry:S. Curtis
Added Entry:Northwestern University