Animating perception: British cartoons from music hall to cinema, 1880 - 1928

Cook, Malcolm (2013) Animating perception: British cartoons from music hall to cinema, 1880 - 1928. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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This thesis examines the history of animated cartoons in Britain between 1880 and 1928, identifying a body of work that has been largely ignored by film and animation historians, covering the production, distribution, and exhibition of these films. Throughout this history, graphic arts - especially print cartooning and illustration - and the music-hall lightning cartoon act are found to have played a formative role in British animated cartoons. The artists who made the first British animated cartoons were almost exclusively drawn from one of those two fields and thus this work may be considered to form a parallel history of ‘artists’ film’. They brought with them to film a range of concerns from those prior forms that would shape British animated cartoons. Examining that context provides an understanding of the ways British animated cartoons developed in technologic, economic, and aesthetic terms. This work includes the first in-depth history of the music-hall lightning cartoon act, which finds that it anticipates cinematic animation, featuring qualities such as transformation, the movement of line drawings, and the desire to bring drawings to life. Building on this history, a new critical framework for examining these films aesthetically is provided, emphasising the role of the spectator and their perceptual processes. This framework draws upon the work of E.H. Gombrich and Sergei Eisenstein, and extends it to include recent findings from neuroscientific fields. The result is an original aesthetic reading of this body of work, which finds the films to have a deep engagement with the basic perceptual processes involved in viewing moving line drawings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use.
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Arts > History of Art & Screen Media
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2013 09:34
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2017 12:12

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