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LAF: Self-Knowledge and Desire in Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows

London Aesthetics Forum

Nick Stang (University of Toronto)

Co-Sponsored with BIMI, the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image

15 February 2019, 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London. WC1

In Douglas Sirk’s 1955 masterpiece All That Heaven Allows, rich widow Cary (Jane Wyman) must choose between her love for her handsome and individualistic gardener Ron (Rock Hudson), on the one hand, and the approval of her upper middle-class social world, on the other. In a very concrete sense, then, it is about a woman coming to know what she wants: the Thoreau-reading Ron or her friends at the country club? I will discuss the way in which the film dramatizes self-knowledge, in particular knowledge of one’s own desires, and how that self-knowledge is made possible through relationships with others.

The London Aesthetics Forum (LAF) is a Forum of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. With lectures on topics in aesthetics and philosophy of art, LAF aims to stimulate philosophical reflection on art. Our events are free and open to all.

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