CineLab • Seminar

The Film-Phil Lisbon Seminars: Catherine Wheatley

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: film, mourning, and the passing of the world

July’s Film-Phil Lisbon Seminar (2023-2024) will be led by Catherine Wheatley (King’s College London, United Kingdom) who will talk about “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: film, mourning, and the passing of the world”. The session is hybrid and will be held on July 4, 2024, at 15:00 PM (Lisbon time), at Colégio Almada Negreiros (room SE1) and online, via Zoom. To receive information about joining the meeting online, it’s mandatory to register in advance here.


Across his work, the philosopher Stanley Cavell returns again and again to the idea that human beings have lost what he calls “our natural relation to the world”. It is a loss that functions on multiple levels and has to do with both a particular historical moment (the Enlightenment) and a particular moment in each human being’s life history, at which we lose our ability to take the world at face value, to believe in what we see, falling into doubt, or the condition of skepticism. The world is lost to us, Cavell claims, and it is the philosopher’s role “to [mourn] its passing”. As a ‘moving image of skepticism’ and an inherently philosophical medium, film both participates in and reflects this state of mourning. But it also models its overcoming, teaching us how to live in the wake of loss and to forge a future founded on the acknowledgement that the world and its inhabitants remain beyond our grasp. As such, film may even help us restore life to the world – but only if we can learn how to let it go. In this talk, I will draw on examples from Cavell’s film-philosophical writings including François Truffaut’s ‘Jules and Jim’ and George Cukor’s ‘The Philadelphia Story’, to examine what that might look like.


Catherine Wheatley is Reader in Film and Visual Culture at King’s College London. She has published widely on questions pertaining to film, ethics and aesthetics, is the author of four monographs, most recently ‘Stanley Cavell and Film: Scepticism and Self-Reliance at the Cinema’ (London: Bloomsbury, 2018) and the editor of a number of essay collections and special issues, including, with Kate Rennebohm a dossier for the journal ‘Screen’ entitled ‘Projecting Cavell’). Catherine also writes regularly for ‘Sight & Sound’ magazine, and is a convenor of the BFI’s Philosophical Screens series.

Funded by the European Union (ERC, FILM AND DEATH, 101088956). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.