Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Describing Cinema

Oxford University Press


In Describing Cinema, award-winning film scholar Timothy Corrigan explores the art and poetics of writing about film. Part theory, part rhetoric, and part pedagogy, the text examines and demonstrates acts of describing scenes, shots, and sequences in films as the most common and most underestimated way viewers respond to movies. Describing Cinema represents a global range of movies from Hollywood to Morocco to Rome, made from the 1940s to the present. As Corrigan shows, energetic and careful descriptions can serve as exceptionally rich ways to demonstrate and celebrate the activities, varieties, and challenges of a central generative movement in the viewing and interpretation of films. At its best, the act of describing films never simply denotes actions, images, sounds, or styles but rather produces the orchestration of one or more of those dimensions as an often creative and intersubjective movement between images, viewers, and a rhetorical language. Providing an invaluable exploration of the challenges and rewards film scholars face in describing movies, Corrigan insists that writing about film becomes thinking about film.