Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 09/04/2021

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Film Studies

First Advisor

Ungar, Steven

Second Advisor

Stewart, Garrett

First Committee Member

Scullion, Rosemarie

Second Committee Member

Wittenberg, David

Third Committee Member

Goetz, Christopher


As in physics, one faces a three-body problem in film studies. Similarly, neither logic has a general solution. There are bodies on screen as representation, bodies before the screen as audiences, and supposedly film’s body as a quasi-subject that perceives and expresses through the screen. However, no scholarship has addressed the central question of the body’s medium specificity in determining how the story on screen is told in a socio-historical context. Using phenomenology and media studies, Corporeal Modernism: Transnational Body Cinema Since 1968 fills the gap by articulating how the body’s metaphysical and physical conditions are the foundation of narrative cinema. I showcase how the medium specificity of the body is deployed to flesh out social and political conflicts from European political modernism through Asian New Waves to the latest Hollywood digital blockbusters.

Corporeal Modernism considers the body as a medium—not as mere representation in cinema—to examine the relationship between the bodies on screen and before the screen. Using phenomenology and media studies, my research illustrates how the body on screen, without manifesting its corporeal qualities, operates as vehicle to deliver a character in narrative. Only when the body of a character is hurt or incapacitated, the audience is made aware of how the body is a formal issue as well. My research demonstrates how cinema presents the body and the world on screen. Corporeal modernism is the technical awareness of the body-image located in the history of cinema.


cinematic modernism, digital cinema, film phenomenology, film theory, the body


xl, 260 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 248-260).


Copyright © 2019 Chang-Min Yu

Available for download on Saturday, September 04, 2021