Robert Furze

Skating on Thin Eyes: Encountering the Visceral Image in Mainstream Narrative Cinema

Year: 2008

Keywords: , ,


Dublin City University
(at time of presentation)

Personal profile:



The Visceral Screen: Between the cinemas of John Cassavetes and David Cronenberg, a Barthesian Perspective.

PhD Thesis: Dublin City University, 2011.

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In Memory of Robert Furze

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Robert Furze (1971-2013), who passed away on March 29th at the age of 41. Robert was a member of the Faculty of Humanities at Dublin City University (DCU), where his research was supported by a two-year Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) scholarship. Robert had been a member of SCMS from 2011 to the present.

Robert was awarded first class honours for his B.A. degree in Histories of Modern Art, Architecture and Film at Sheffield Hallam University in 2004, and for his M.A. in Film and Television at DCU. He completed his Ph.D. thesis, entitled "The Visceral Screen: Between the Cinemas of John Cassavetes and David Cronenberg, a Barthesian Perspective,” at DCU in 2011 under the supervision of Dr. Pat Brereton. Robert lectured undergraduate and postgraduate students at DCU in courses on Analyzing the Media, The Social Applications of Film, and Science Fiction Cinema, while supervising M.A. students working on film and multimedia theses. He also taught courses and led workshops at Filmbase, Dublin’s non-profit resource center for aspiring filmmakers.

Robert presented his work at a number of international conferences, including a symposium on "The Writer on Film" at The University of York in 2010 and at "Media in Transition 7" at MIT in 2011. He published essays and reviews in various journals, including Convergence and Estudios Irlandeses; his co-authored articles onAvatar and The Tree of Life are forthcoming. He was completing a contracted book based upon his dissertation at the time of his death, and planning collaborative research on the aesthetic connections between video games and cinema. He was passionately dedicated to his chosen field. We hope that his work will serve as a partial tribute to a career that ended too soon.

Source: 20 June 2013. In Memory of Robert Furze. Society for Cinema and Media Studies. [online] 21 April 2014. Available at:


The paper will address the non-narrative elements present in the mainstream fiction film.  The particular focus will be on the ‘visceral image’, whereby a cinematic moment may be seen as not merely marginal to narrative agency, but actually succeeds in overtaking plot and story.

Non-narrative elements are commonly sidelined as irrelevant ‘excesses’.  In cases where they are impossible to ignore, there either follows an attempt to justify their inclusion within the aegis of narrative reason, or they are rejected, and at worst banished from the discussion of the pantheon of great works.  In either case the visceral image is framed in such a way that it is made safe, and no longer nameless or taboo.

Using a selection of stills from different periods in mainstream cinema – each linked by the motif of the eye – the paper will present an argument for visceral cinema to be appraised with the same rigour that is accorded to narrative structure, whilst also acknowledging the difficulties in discussing an aspect of film that in many ways exists outside both cinematic and linguistic discourse.  The intended outcome will be to recognise how prevalent an insalubrious dynamic of instinct and unreason is at play between film and its audience.