Hypnotic Crimes, Corporate Fiction, and the Invention of Cinema
Tracing this preoccupation through the period’s films—as well as its legal, medical, and literary texts—Andriopoulos pays particular attention to the terrifying notion of murder committed against one’s will. He returns us to a time when medical researchers described the hypnotized subject as a medium who could be compelled to carry out violent crimes, and when films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler famously portrayed the hypnotist’s seemingly unlimited power on the movie screen. Juxtaposing these medicolegal and cinematic scenarios with modernist fiction, Andriopoulos also develops an innovative reading of Kafka’s novels, which center on the merging of human and corporate bodies.
Blending theoretical sophistication with scrupulous archival research and insightful film analysis, Possessed adds a new dimension to our understanding of today’s anxieties about the onslaught of visual media and the expanding reach of vast corporations that seem to absorb our own identities.
I Tales of Hypnotic Crime
II Invisible Corporate Bodies
III Staging the Hypnotic Crime
IV Bernheim, Caligari, Mabuse: Cinema and Hypnotism
V Human and Corporate Bodies in Broch and Kafka
Appendix A. Filmography
“Not only a groundbreaking study of early twentieth-century German film and literature, Stefan Andriopoulos’s Possessed is an extraordinary examination of cultural anxieties about individual agency and autonomy amid the consolidation of corporate and institutional power at the beginning of the previous century. With exemplary historical precision and intellectual nuance, the book illuminates the relations between early cinematic attractions, modernist fiction, and emerging technologies of control and suggestion."—Jonathan Crary, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Columbia University
“Ambitious and wide-ranging, Possessed is a remarkably invigorating interdisciplinary exercise that will be read with profit by individuals in cinema and media studies, comparative literature, and the history of science. It reaches conclusions that are both precisely stated and inordinately suggestive.”--Eric Rentschler, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
“A superb testimony to the enduring allure and resonance of German Expressionist cinema, Possessed illustrates the richness of a methodology that recharges the past with new symbolic energy.”
“Stefan Andriopoulos's fascinating, interdisciplinary study examines in great detail the connections between legal, medical, and literary discourses of hypnotism, and the birth of cinema. His aim . . . is admirably supported by a comprehensive survey of discursive developments in the legal and medical worlds, and how literature, and then cinema, appropriated this discourse in the name of entertainment. . . . Andriopoulos relates how Guy de Maupassant once received a hallucinatory visitation of his own self, which compelled him to write material against his own will and subsequently disappeared again. This anecdote seems to be an appropriate note on which to end an overall compelling account of hypnotism and somnambulism in the early years of German cinema.”
Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts: Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize