Recommend to your Librarian

Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance

Powers of Affection

Elena del Río

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This book offers a unique reconsideration of the performing body that privileges the notion of affective force over the notion of visual form at the centre of former theories of spectacle and performativity. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of the body, and on Deleuze-Spinoza's relevant concepts of affect and expression, Elena del Río examines a kind of cinema that she calls 'affective-performative'. The features of this cinema unfold via detailed and engaging discussions of the movements, gestures and speeds of the body in a variety of films by Douglas Sirk, Rainer W. Fassbinder, Sally Potter, Claire Denis, and David Lynch. Key to the book's engagement with performance is a consistent attention to the body's powers of affection.

Key Features

  • The first study of the interface between Deleuzian theory and film performance.
  • A sustained consideration of the links between the body of performance and the body of affect.
  • An analysis of the relation of the performative body to a feminist politics.
  • New readings of classical melodramas as well as contemporary independent cinemas.


Introduction: Cinema and the Affective-Performative
1. Animated Fetishes
2. Choreographies of Affect
3. Dancing Feminisms
4. Kinesthetic Seductions
5. Powers of the False

About the Author

Elena del Río is Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada.


A highly original and insightful contribution to the study of both Deleuze and film studies.
- Ian Buchanan, editor of Deleuze Studies
When Deleuze's books on cinema appeared in 1983 and 1985, some questioned the usefulness of his abstract theoretical distinctions for practical film criticism. With the appearance of Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance, skeptics need doubt no more. In this compelling analysis of works by Sirk, Fassbinder, Potter, Denis and Lynch, Elena del Río has combined elements of performance theory, feminism and various Deleuzian concepts to form an elegant analytic tool capable of illuminating the specific elements of a wide range of films. Without seeking to supplant the methodologies of cultural critique and psychoanalysis, del Río has argued persuasively for the existence of an affective dimension of cinematic images that exceeds and supplements the categories of these critical approaches. This is a truly innovative book that points the way toward the continuing development of a multifaceted Deleuzian approach to film criticism. Highly recommended.
- Professor Ronald Bogue, The University of Georgia

This book should merit a place near the top of not just Deleuze- and performance-focused film scholars, but any film scholar’s film scholarly reading list – if not their general one.