This paper recovers a crucial insight from Aristotle for how to study artworks and then applies that insight to contemporary film theory. In his Poetics, Aristotle introduces the discipline of the critical study of art as the foundation of liberal education. He did so in opposition to Plato, who thought that the mimetic arts could not be taught--only technē could. Aristotle’s crucial claim is that artwork is born out of the creative antagonism between mimetic and technical learning, which only critical thinking is able to reflect on. Cognitivist film scholars (opposing the typical humanities approach that reduces film to its mimetic aspect) argue for a more scientific approach to film, which, however, would reduce film drama entirely to its technical aspect. I argue that the study of cinema is part of liberal education: it yields both algorithmic analytical learning taught formally and heuristic mimetic learning that cannot be formally taught. The artistic image is a site of learning potentially leading even its uneducated (or illiterate) student from mimetic pleasure to dramatic recognition. The cultivation of critical cinematic thinking enables the learner to resist the attempt of control by marketing or propaganda.


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pp. 42-57
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