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AbstractThis thesis proposes that the act of walking functions as a dominant chronotope in the work of British filmmaker Andrea Arnold. Using Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept (1988), it demonstrates how walking mobilises a reading of the landscape and the female body that articulates their combined resistance to hegemonic narratives of exclusion and deprivation. Furthermore, by examining its chronotopicity, the function of walking as a discrete element is analysed to reveal its narrative, aesthetic, and contextual significance. Whilst previous studies of the cinematic flâneuse are restricted mainly to European and art-house cinema and their middle class protagonists, this thesis focuses attention on less affluent female characters whose walking takes place not in the metropolis but in the edgelands, suburbs, and social housing estates that constitute the contemporary built environment, along with Arnold’s depiction of the harsh rural landscape of nineteenth-century Yorkshire in Wuthering Heights (2011). This is a study of walking as depicted in Arnold’s cinematic output, along with the three short films with which she began her career, all of which focus upon strong female characters living in areas of economic and social deprivation. From a feminist perspective, her films are “power-to” narratives (Sutherland and Feltey, 2017) that show how female agency is predicated on emotional, and practical, resilience, and Arnold demonstrates this agency by foregrounding her protagonists’ physical and geographical mobility, using walking as their dominant mode of movement. The textual analysis draws on Laura U. Mark’s theories of haptic cinema to examine Arnold’s visual style, combined with a reading of Michel de Certeau whose work emphasises walking as a form of tactile, urban remapping. From this, a new way of interpreting women and walking emerges, and the term ‘haptic flâneuse’ is proposed to describe women’s sensory investigations, explorations, and encounters with the new urban landscape. The conclusions drawn show how walking scenes provide opportunities for female agency, and that such journeys function in excess of their narrative significance, creating an interpretative space to examine the structural, aesthetic, and contextual elements of the films. In this way, the walking chronotope acts as a lens through which Arnold’s work can be interpreted. In summary, this thesis contributes to knowledge in three ways: by providing the first detailed study of walking in Arnold’s oeuvre; by proposing the figure of the haptic flâneuse as a way of thinking about the experiences of women who walk in marginalised spaces; and by demonstrating how a chronotopic reading of walking scenes elevates them from a narrative means to an end to significant film elements in themselves.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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