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American ObscurantismHistory and the Visual in U.S. Literature and Film$
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Peter Lurie

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199797318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199797318.001.0001

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“Orders from the House”

“Orders from the House”

American Historicism in The Shining

Chapter:
(p.53) 2 “Orders from the House”
Source:
American Obscurantism
Author(s):

Peter Lurie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199797318.003.0003

This chapter takes its title from an essay about The Shining by Fredric Jameson, “Historicism in the Shining,” which, for all its acuity about the film’s awareness of economic history, demonstrates a notable blind spot around issues of race and the violence subtending America’s past in regions like the U.S. west. It shows a troubling alliance between Jack Torrance’s will to mastery and director Stanley Kubrick’s unique wielding of cinematic omniscience, suggesting the film’s awareness of the frontier as both a space of supposed white sovereignty and aesthetic spectacle. It employs key visual tropes and verbal details as well as the film’s stylistic excesses to suggest the history of genocide embedded in both the Overlook Hotel’s history and in American historical concepts such as manifest destiny. Its conclusion utilizes Gilles Deleuze’s model of the time-image to describe an apprehensible historicity in the film’s dual ending.

Keywords:   mastery, cinematic omniscience, manifest destiny, U.S. west, Native Americans, genocide, historicism, Fredric Jameson, class, blood

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