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Abstract

Early film studies has spread rapidly since the 1990s and become a mainstay in film studies in Euro-American academia, bringing technological innovation, visual culture, and urban modernity into film historiography and thus enriching scholarship in a field previously dominated by close textual reading. This article continues my tracking of early film studies but concentrates on methodological issues of the recent focus on “media archaeology.” My “Reading Early Film Theory: Collective Sensorium and Vernacular Modernism” (2005) introduces Miriam Hansen's theory and Zhen Zhang's book on reconstructing a cultural history of Shanghai film. My follow-up “Rereading Early Film Theory: In Pursuit of Sensorial Experiences in Urban Modernity” (2008) revisits cultural theories of modernity by Krakauer and Benjamin and the visual turn in modern urban culture. Twelve years later, my third reading of early film theory examines the turn to dispositif in the media archaeology of early cinema. On the one hand, I reference scholars like Weihong Bao in delineating the emergence of dispositif and affect in early Chinese cinema; on the other hand, I tease out instances of filmic affect in Chaplin's action comedy, City Lights.

Keywords

early film, senses, affect, dispositif, film comedy, Charlie Chaplin

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