Neil Badmington (Cardiff) will be presenting his paper, ‘Punctum Saliens: Barthes, Mourning, Film, Photography’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 9 October 2012. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.
The question I raise for myself: ‘Should I keep a journal?’ is immediately supplied, in my mind, with a nasty answer: ‘Who cares?’ or, more psychoanalytically: ‘It’s your problem.’
(Roland Barthes, ‘Deliberation’)
The talk examines how the posthumous publication in 2009 of Roland Barthes’s Mourning Diary—a journal kept by Barthes for nearly two years following the death of his mother in October 1977—casts new light on Camera Lucida, Barthes’ influential book on photography, which was written during the period covered by the diary. In particular, the paper will examine how the Mourning Diary reveals for the first time that Barthes’ theory of the photographic punctum has cinematic roots which are erased in Camera Lucida, and I go on to discuss possible reasons for this vanishing. Why should the difficult ‘preparation’ of what Barthes called ‘the Photo-Maman book’ involve a paring away of film? Why does cinema allow Barthes to begin to theorize the punctum, but then recede from view? How, in short, does the Mourning Diary illuminate Camera Lucida anew?
About the speaker
Neil Badmington is Reader in English Literature at Cardiff University. His research focuses on 20th- and 21st-century literature, film, poststructuralism, postmodernity, textuality and posthumanism. He is the author of Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within (2004) and Hitchcock’s Magic (2011), and has edited various collections on Barthes, critical theory and posthumanism. His principal research project at the moment is a book about narratives of withdrawal (or retreat) from the world, which enquires into the relationship between retreating and writing.