Modernist Poetics and Experimental Film Practice of Maya Deren (1917-1961)

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“Basing her study on primary sources, Jackson provides insights into the active life, aesthetic theories, and film practices of a gifted artist….focuses much attention on Deren’s most important theoretical work, An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film (1946), which has been reissued in a number of books….She then considers Deren’s ritualist aesthetics, her modernist film poetics, and her actual practice in filmmaking. Jackson’s approach is detailed, stimulating, and enthusiastic. Deren’s growing reputation as a film theorist is well served by this book. A filmography and a very helpful bibliography are included.” - CHOICE

“. . . a fine piece of scholarship on the life, films and film theory of this important American artist. The biographical chapter, rich in insight and authoritative in its facts, fleshes out the skeletal and sometimes inaccurate information published on Deren in the various anthologies. Jackson’s extended analysis of the 1946 Anagram of Ideas on Art Form and Film also redresses the long absence in cinema studies of any serious consideration of this complex and principled treatise on the conjunction of issues in art, ethics, and motion pictures. In addition, the author investigates Deren’s long involvement with Haitian culture—particularly its dance forms and religious practices—and clarifies previously cloudy information regarding Deren’s unfinished film on Voudoun.” - Catrina Neiman

“. . . answers a perceived lack in academic consideration of Deren’s work as a film theorist. Although widely recognized and even lauded as an avant garde film maker, Deren is really something more. Herself keenly engaged with writing and literature as art forms, Maya Deren contributes to our understanding of film as a highly specific medium in prose that is often close to poetic in its grace and precision. Similarly, Renata Jackson renders that understanding and its relationship to Deren’s works in film and writing in a lucid and meticulously crafted analysis of Deren’s multifaceted life and works, which range from film through writing to ethnography. . . . affords her readers a fuller appreciation of the aesthetic and moral dimension of Deren’s work. By viewing Deren’s work in film in the context of her intellectual odysseys and pursuits and in the context of her life as a secular Jew, Jackson makes the films in some ways more accessible to further analysis and encourages a new appreciation of the diverse cultural and intellectual strands that comprised Maya Deren’s life.” – Phebe Davidson

“Renata Jackson’s monograph The Modernist Poetics and Experimental Film Practice of Maya Deren is the first work to bring together a thorough consideration of the great pioneer filmmaker’s films and theories in a single volume.”-P. Adams Sitney

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Chapter Headings include: A Thematic Biography; The Aesthetics and Ethics of Anagram; Deren’s Modernist Film Poetics; Theory into Practice; Appendix: Maya Deren Filmography; Bibliography, Index

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