Patrick Marshall defended his doctoral dissertation, "State Violence, State Control: Costa-Gavras's Cinematic Political Theory", on Friday, November 3, 2023. The committee consisted of Brian Price (supervisor), James Cahill, Meghan Sutherland, Sara Saljoughi, exam chair Rebecca Woods, and external examiner Luka Arsenjuk (University of Maryland - College Park, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures).
We asked Patrick about his work.
My dissertation “State Violence, State Control: Costa-Gavras’s Cinematic Political Theory” explores a trilogy of very well-known but understudied European thrillers by Costa-Gavras made between 1969 and 1972: Z (1969), The Confession (1970), and State of Siege (1972). While these films were the subjects of vociferous debate in the moment of their release, they were rarely subject to close formal analysis and their capacity to develop concepts was rarely noted. My dissertation intervenes in the existing literature on these films by viewing them as instances of realism in the Marxist sense. That is to say, I view these films as works of narrative art that attempt to activate the point of view of totality. In so doing, I argue, these films ultimately seek to show the relationship between the modern state on the one hand, and forms of counter-power that emerge on the edges of the state. In this respect, my dissertation ultimately attempts to develop a theory of the cinematic critique of the state as a political form by bringing Marxist categories of political and aesthetic analysis back into film studies.
His supervisor, Brian Price, had this to say about Patrick's thesis:
Congratulations to Patrick on a successful defense of his brilliant dissertation on Costa-Gavras! Patrick has made an extraordinary intervention in the aesthetic politics of film, has developed a sophisticated approach to the global politics of popular form, to its analytical potential. Not only is the dissertation a major intervention in political film theory—especially as an alternative to politically modernist forms of cinematic critique—but it also situates Costa-Gavras's work in relation to the some of the most important debates in the history of political philosophy.
Patrick also has this to say:
I would like to thank my amazing dissertation committee, my partner Laura, and the astonishingly supportive and active community of friends and peers that I have at the Cinema Studies Institute.
I look forward to turning this dissertation into a book project on Costa-Gavras, emphasizing his development of a cinematic philosophy of the state, and to working on a newer project on the concept of private property and moving image media. I also look forward to teaching a few courses in the winter term, and to applying for conferences and academic positions as they come.
Congratulations, Dr. Marshall!