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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Catherine Portuges

Second Advisor

James Hicks

Third Advisor

Anne Ciecko

Fourth Advisor

Boris Wolfson

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature


Contemporary critical discussions of autobiographical cinema have linked the theory, practice, and poetics of autobiographical filmmaking to those of self-portraiture. A Poetics of Subtraction complicates the dominant theoretical framework by advocating for the relevance of sculpture and its attendant poetics in the interpretation of autobiographical films. Through a thorough examination of Hollis Frampton's (nostalgia) (1971), Andrei Tarkovsky's Зеркало (Mirror, 1975) and Tempo di viaggio (1983), and Mercedes Álvarez's El cielo gira (2004), this dissertation argues that an understanding of sculpture's processes and poetics is essential for grasping the methods, materials, and meanings of autobiographical films. In particular, the sculptural approach to autobiographical cinema reveals new ways to represent memory, history, identity, and time through film.