Close reading is a classic humanities methodology for the analysis and understanding of texts across a variety of media. It’s a rigorous discipline—in the words of van Looy and Baetans: “The text is never trusted at face value, but is torn to pieces and reconstituted by a reader who is at the same time a demolisher and a constructor.” This is a difficult task—the practice of close reading requires that the scholar immerse herself in the experience of the text on its own terms, and at the same time maintain a critical distance in order to observe and understand the construction and the effects of the text. Bizzocchi relies on close reading for his own scholarly work and uses various strategies to reconcile the contradictory states of experience and analysis.
Close reading can be used to explicate works across a variety of dimensions: thematic, cultural, historical, sociological, and others. Bizzocchi’s goal is to understand the poetics—the creative decisions—embedded in media works. Bordwell describes poetics as “inquiry into the fundamental principles by which artifacts in any representational medium are constructed, and the effects that flow from these principles”. Bizzocchi has always loved the magic of immersion in the experience of the moving image. As a scholar, he says his role is “to seek within that immersive experience the details of how the magic is created”. He will present his analyses of Norman Jewison’s The Thomas Crown Affair, Tom Tykwer’s Run, Lola, Run, and Gerrie Villon and Alex Mayhew’s Ceremony of Innocence (an interactive adaptation of The Griffin and Sabine trilogy by Nick Bantock).
Jim Bizzocchi is an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.