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Our inaugural volume presents twelve critical essays, all written by current or former students in UNC-Chapel Hill film studies courses. While the authors collectively cover a wide range of topics and take different approaches, they each pay meticulous attention to formal detail, investigating the larger cultural and political stakes that bear on certain styles and genres, from horror to the essay film. By bridging the avant-garde and mainstream, putting theory in the service of close analysis, and approaching the moving image on a global stage, these essays together provide a solid foundation for the critical work that will be featured in Aspect going forward.


Surreal Exposures: Found Footage Experiments in Avant-Garde Cinema

Lexi Baird

How three filmmakers (Joseph Cornell, Martin Arnold, and Peter Tscherkassky) rework already existing films, unleashing new resonances



Cemetery of Splendor as New Queer Surrealism

Patrick Costley

How Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s slow, queer film from Thailand revises the political capabilities of surrealism



Earn ‘n’ Cash: Surrealist Comedy, Code-Switching, and Capitalism in Atlanta and Sorry to Bother You

Dylan O’Connor

How two surreal comedies authored by African American artists explore the topic of racial performance as it relates to capitalism



Suspense and the Supernatural in Personal Shopper and Let the Right One In

Hateya Foxx

How two arthouse thrillers convey suspense through offscreen space, sound, and the technique of “deframing”



Inhuman Violence of Capitalism in Alien

Josh Martin

How Ridley Scott’s science fiction/horror masterpiece addresses capitalistic exploitation through its themes and atmospheric style



Fascism, the Phallus, and the Grotesque in Dr. Strangelove

Claude Wilson

How Kubrick’s endlessly relevant satire exposes the links between patriarchal and fascistic attitudes



Is this Some Kind of Joke? Surrealist Tragicomedy in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman and the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man

Felix Murithi

How two surreal tragicomedies draw us into their characters’ existential angst



Minds Full of Scorpions, Witches in the Wings: Probing the Liminal States and Marginal Spaces of Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and Welles’ Macbeth

Timothy Dement

How two adaptations of Shakespeare’s tragedy use the witches as a pretext to explore the offscreen as a key cinematic resource



A Thousand-Year Enigma: Adapting The Tale of Genji

Carissa Roets

How two films inventively adapt one of the world’s oldest novels, an eternally important text in Japanese culture



The Unfixed Present of Memories of Underdevelopment

Miguel Penabella

How Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s landmark film from 1968 addresses the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath through reflective articulations of cinematic time



Agnès Varda: The Gleaner of All Things

Macy Meyer

How Varda’s seminal essay film, The Gleaners and I, conceptualizes gleaning as an artistic and political activity





Lili Zay

Video essay reflecting on how human and extra-human creatures are vitally intertwined