On sabbatical leave – will return Easter term 2024

Dr Laura McMahon is an Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies, with research interests in connections between film and philosophy, especially in French and Francophone contexts, and in cinema’s relations with decolonial, feminist and ecocritical approaches.

She is currently working on a project that explores how recent feminist remediations of archives — of ethnographic films, newsreels, home movies and photographs, for example —reframe histories through forms of critical repurposing and speculative reimagining. The project addresses contemporary moving image practice – mostly documentary filmmaking and artists’ moving image – in a global context, exploring work by Onyeka Igwe, Khady Sylla, Annie Ernaux, Alina Marazzi and Michelle Citron, among others.

Recent publications relating to this project include:

  • ‘Disordering Archives: Onyeka Igwe and Black Feminist Speculative Histories’, Screen, 64:4 (2023)
  • ‘Women’s Voices in Contemporary Senegal: Khady Sylla’s Le monologue de la muette (The Silent Monologue) (2008)’, in Stefanie van der Peer, Lizelle Bisschoff and Ana Grgic (eds), Stretching the Archives: Decolonising Global Women’s Film Heritage (Archive Books, forthcoming in 2024)

Previous work has explored questions of ecologies, politics and philosophy in a range of moving image practice. For example, she has written on ‘untimely’ justice and colonial memory in Alain Resnais’s Muriel ou le temps d’un retour (1963), ecologies and nonhuman histories in the films of Claire Denis, and the place of animal death in allegories of post-war France in Georges Franju’s Le sang des bȇtes (1948).

Her monograph Animal Worlds: Film, Philosophy and Time (Edinburgh University Press, 2019) brings reflections on the ethics and politics of animal life by thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida and Nicole Shukin into contact with a range of contemporary international art cinema, particularly experimental documentary, including work by Emmanuel Gras, Denis Côté, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, and Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel. The focus of the book intersects with ‘Screen Animals’ (2015), a dossier of essays that she edited for the journal Screen, and with a collection entitled Animal Life and the Moving Image (BFI, 2015), co-edited with Michael Lawrence, which includes chapters by Raymond Bellour and other leading scholars in the field.

Other research interests include questions of embodiment, materiality and the senses in cinema. Her first book, Cinema and Contact (Legenda, 2012), focuses on the films of Claire Denis, Marguerite Duras and Robert Bresson, examining dynamics of touch, politics and community, drawing in particular on the work of the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy.

 

Contact details:

Gonville and Caius College

Trinity Street

Cambridge

CB2 1TA

 

Publications

Monographs

  • Animal Worlds: Film, Philosophy and Time (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019)
  • Cinema and Contact: The Withdrawal of Touch in Nancy, Bresson, Duras and Denis (Oxford: Legenda, 2012)

Edited volumes

  • Animal Life and the Moving Image, co-edited with Michael Lawrence (London: BFI, 2015)
  • Rhythms: Essays in French Literature, Thought and Culture, co-edited with Elizabeth Lindley (Bern: Peter Lang, 2008)

Edited special issue

  • ‘Screen Animals’, Screen, 56:1 (2015)

Journal articles

  • ‘Disordering Archives: Onyeka Igwe and Black Feminist Speculative Histories’, Screen, 64:4 (2023)
  • ‘Untimely Resnais: Muriel’s Justice’, Film-Philosophy, 20:2-3 (2016), 219-234
  • ‘Animal Agency in Le Quattro Volte’, Screen, 56:1 (2015), 108-114
  • ‘Cinematic Slowness, Political Paralysis? Animal Life in Bovines’, NECSUS, Spring 2015, http://www.necsus-ejms.org/category/spring-2015-animals/
  • ‘Animal Worlds: Denis Côté’s Bestiaire’, Studies in French Cinema, 14:3 (2014), 195-215
  • ‘Claire Denis’s Ecologies’, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 7 (2014), 1-18
  • ‘Dislocation of the Senses: Nancy on Klotz’s La Blessure’, The Senses and Society, 8:1 (2013), 62-71
  • ‘Unwinding the Anthropological Machine: Animality, Film and Arnaud des Pallières’, Paragraph, 35:3 (2012), 373–388
  • ‘From Homofraternity to Hospitality: Deconstructing the Political with Derrida and the Dardennes’, French Studies, 66:4 (2012), 510-524
  • ‘Suspended Moments: Child Performance in Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher’, Screen, 53:4 (2012), 471-476
  • ‘The Justice of Images: Between Derrida and Nancy’, Modern and Contemporary France, 19:1 (2011), 1-16
  • ‘Jean-Luc Nancy and the Spacing of the World’, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 15:5 (2011), 623-631
  • ‘Post-deconstructive Realism? Nancy’s Cinema of Contact’, New Review of Film and Television Studies, 8:1 (2010), 73-93
  • ‘Lovers in Touch: Inoperative Community in Nancy, Duras and India Song’, Paragraph, 31:2 (2008), 189-205
  • ‘Deconstructing Community and Christianity: “A-religion” in Nancy’s Reading of Beau Travail’, Film-Philosophy, 12:1 (2008), 63-78, http://www.film-philosophy.com/2008v12n1/mcmahon.pdf
  • ‘The Withdrawal of Touch: Denis, Nancy and L’Intrus’, Studies in French Cinema, 8:1 (2008), 29-39
  • ‘Figuring Intrusion: Nancy and Denis’, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 12:4 (2008), 463-470
  • ‘L’Intrus’, in ‘Exposures: Critical Essays on Jean-Luc Nancy’, special issue of The Oxford Literary Review, 27 (2007), 187-191

Book chapters

  • ‘Women’s Voices in Contemporary Senegal: Khady Sylla’s Le monologue de la muette (The Silent Monologue) (2008)’, in Stefanie van der Peer, Lizelle Bisschoff and Ana Grgic (eds), Stretching the Archives: Decolonising Global Women’s Film Heritage (Archive Books, forthcoming in 2024)
  • ‘Franju’s Animals: Stains, Traces, Histories’, in Zoe Angeli and Blake Gutt (eds), Stains/Les Taches: Communication and Contamination in French and Francophone Literature and Culture (Bern: Peter Lang, 2019)
  • ‘Film’, in Ron Broglio, Undine Sellbach and Lynn Turner (eds), The Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018)
  • ‘Dead Funny: Laughter, Life and Death in Philibert’s Nénette and Un Animal, des animaux’, in Michael Lawrence and Karen Lury (eds), The Zoo: Images of Exhibition and Encounter (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 247-268
  • ‘Screening Pigs: Visibility, Facticity and the Production of Species’, in Lawrence and McMahon (eds), Animal Life and the Moving Image (London: BFI, 2015), pp. 203-218
  • ‘Evidence – Jean-Luc Nancy’, in Edward Branigan and Warren Buckland (eds), The Routledge Encyclopedia of Film Theory (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 173-177
  • ‘Rhythms of Relationality: Denis and Dance’, in Marjorie Vecchio (ed), The Films of Claire Denis: Intimacy on the Border (London: IB Tauris, 2014), pp. 175-188
  • ‘Imitation, Seriality, Cinema: Early Fassbinder and Godard’, in Brigitte Peucker (ed), A Companion to Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012), pp. 79-100
  • ‘Passage of Sense: Anish Kapoor’s Memory (2008) with Jean-Luc Nancy’, in Lorna Collins and Elizabeth Rush (eds), Making Sense: For an Effective Aesthetics (Bern: Peter Lang, 2011), pp. 199-206
  • ‘Touching Intact: Sophie Calle’s Threat to Privacy’, in Georgina Evans and Adam Kay (eds), Threat: Essays in French Literature, Thought and Cinema (Bern: Peter Lang, 2010), pp. 69-83
  • ‘The Contagious Body of the Film: Claire Denis’s Trouble Every Day’, in Isabelle McNeill and Bradley Stephens (eds), Transmissions: Essays in French Literature, Thought and Cinema (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007), pp. 77-92

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