Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Moving Image Studies

First Advisor

Greg Smith

Second Advisor

Jennifer Barker

Third Advisor

Jay Rajiva

Fourth Advisor

Jack Boozer



Ghosting Images: Haunted by and Haunting Filmic Images

Watching a film can be a haunting experience. Sometimes a filmic image may stay with us long after our viewing experience, inhabiting our body, so to speak, like the ghost of a person we once knew, or a place we once visited, or an event or traumatic memory. There may be ghost images from films we saw long ago that occasionally still haunt us; or at other times, we may feel like we are ghosts haunting the world on screen, moving through the filmic world like an unseen witness. By using the metaphor of ghosts when we talk about films, we can better articulate our experiences with characters we can’t forget, our feelings of occupying space in an imagined world, and our emotional responses to witnessed events.

In this dissertation, I intend to answer two questions: How do we make ghosts of the images on film? and How might we become ghosts to the images on film?For both questions, I employ the conceptual metaphor of ghosting images[1] as the process made possible by our experience viewing a film. I will apply ghosting images to four filmic-image types: characters, events, space, and trauma. As active participants in a world separated from us by space, for example, it is the illusionary effects of movement through filmic space enabled by a director’s camera though which we can enter (at least partially) into the filmic world. Moreover, I propose ghosting images as the ways to describe metaphorically why some characters and events are memorable, why we may seem to occupy filmic space, or why our witness of traumatic images can provoke such powerful affects. Ghosting images is how we are haunted by filmic images, and how our presence/non-presence within a film is inherently haunting.

Although the vagueness of ghosting images is potentially overwhelming, I do believe it is a productive way for remembering what an image may mean and an effective way to describe something very particular though unnamable. Ultimately, my hope may rest in the vagueness of ghosts.

[1]Alternately, image ghosting.


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