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Associate Dean Co-Edits Book on Kubrick

Lee Dancy
Thursday, July 27, 2006

“Depth of Field: Stanley Kubrick, Film, and the Uses of History,” Edited by Geoffrey Cocks, James Diedrick, and Glenn Perusek University of Wisconsin Press

ATLANTA (July 27, 2006) – Jim Diedrick knows the stereotypes many people apply to Stanley Kubrick and may even have shared a few, but editing a collection of essays about the director of some of the 20th century’s most controversial films changed him.

Diedrick, professor of English and an associate dean at Agnes Scott College, said readers will be surprised by the diversity of viewpoints represented in the book “Depth of Field.”

"Many critics view Kubrick as endorsing the male privilege and power his films portray," Diedrick observed, "but as Paula Willoquet-Maricondi demonstrates in her superb essay ‘Full-Metal-Jacketing, or Masculinity in the Making,’ his best films critique masculinity as a social construct, historically determined and therefore open to change. This is one of several essays in the collection that will stimulate debate on Kubrick’s legacy.”

Diedrick said “Depth of Field” contains important essays by two writers who worked closely with Kubrick and who came away from the experience with utterly opposed opinions of the filmmaker.

"Novelist Diane Johnson, who adapted Stephen King's novel ‘The Shining,’ appreciated Kubrick’s literary sensibility and described her collaboration as a ‘marvelous experience.’ Frederic Raphael, who adapted Arthur Schnitzler's novella ‘Dream Story’ for Kubrick's last film ‘Eyes Wide Shut,’ found Kubrick arrogant, stubborn, and self-mythologizing. These two essays constitute an implicit dialogue and debate on the often vexed relationship between filmmakers and screenwriters.”

Diedrick noted that “Depth of Field” grew out of a symposium on Kubrick he and his co-editors Geoffrey Cocks and Glenn Perusek organized in 2000, following Kubrick’s death. "It reflects and represents a remarkable collaboration among film critics and scholars working in a variety of fields – film studies, art history, women’s studies, political theory, and history,” Diedrick said.

Kubrick created a reputation as a Hollywood outsider as well as a cinematic genius. His diverse yet relatively small oeuvre – he directed only 13 films during a career that spanned more than four decades – covers a broad range of the themes that shaped his century and continues to shape the 21st: war and crime, gender relations and class conflict, racism, and the fate of individual agency in a world of increasing social surveillance and control. The new book sheds new light on the personal and historical forces that shaped Kubrick’s career and films.

In “Depth of Field,” leading screenwriters and scholars analyze Kubrick's films from a variety of perspectives. They examine such groundbreaking classics as “Dr. Strangelove” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” and later films whose critical reputations are still in flux. “Depth of Field” ends with three viewpoints on Kubrick's final film, “Eyes Wide Shut,” placing it in the contexts of film history, the history and theory of psychoanalysis, and the sociology of sex and power. Probing Kubrick's whole body of work, “Depth of Field” is the first truly multidisciplinary study of one of the most innovative and controversial filmmakers of the twentieth century.

Diedrick is author of the book “Understanding Martin Amis.” Co-editor Cocks is the Julian S. Rammelkamp professor of history at Albion College. He has written and edited many books, including “The Wolf at the Door: Stanley Kubrick, History, and the Holocaust.” Perusek is author of “Shifting Terrain: Essays on Politics, History and Society and co-editor of Trade Union Politics: American Unions and Economic Change, 1960s-1990s.”

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