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AbstractJaws is useful to scholarship not only because of its interesting narrative, aesthetic style, performances, and production history, but because it is amenable to academic interpretations from a number of different, potentially contradictory theoretical paradigms. These divergent analyses, in addition to offering their own accounts of how Jaws functions, also suggest that certain films relate to contested theoretical premises in inconsistent, ambiguous and overlapping ways. If rival academic paradigms are really so irreconcilable, as they so frequently claim, then a film which can be convincingly analysed by more than one rival approach suggests either some fundamental flaw in one of the paradigms, or that significant elements of the film respond to the competing paradigms’ very different conceptualisations of how film operates. Proponents of competing theories typically take the former approach, making the case that certain methodological errors invalidate the rival account. This chapter, however, is an exploration of the latter possibility. I argue that the filmmaking and spectatorial motivations over which competing theories claim an explanatory monopoly can be manipulated in intersecting and symbiotic ways in films like Jaws and another Spielberg film that stages horrific non-human violence against a backdrop of human duplicity, Jurassic Park (1993). The chapter outlines how existing scholarship conceptualises filmmaking and spectatorship, discussing rival claims about how Spielberg attempts to engender certain different spectatorial responses to Jaws. I then analyse the ways that the film manipulates ostensibly contradictory dramas associated with these rival scholarly theories, suggesting that Spielberg intuits diverse forms of spectatorial pleasure, and is able to create film which elicits multiple spectatorial responses. I finish by briefly comparing Jaws to Jurassic Park, in order to establish how Spielberg’s multiple dramas relate to potential technological determinants.
CitationGeal, R. (2020) Reflexive epistemology in Jaws and Jurassic Park, in Hunter, I.Q. and Melia, M. (eds.) The Jaws book: new perspectives on the classic summer blockbuster. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
TypeChapter in book
DescriptionThis is an accepted manuscript of a book chapter published by Bloomsbury Academic in The Jaws Book: New Perspectives on the Classic Summer Blockbuster, edited by I.Q. Hunter and Matthew Melia, available online: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-jaws-book-9781501347542/ The accepted version of the publication may differ from the final published version.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/