Dr. Philippe Mather

Associate Professor of Film Studies
BFA (Concordia), MA (Iowa), DEA, PhD (Paris III)

Phone: 306.586.4242 ext. 229 | Office: CM 502



Film Department Video (Faculty Profile)

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Short Bio

Dr. Philippe Mather teaches film studies for Campion College at the University of Regina. He has co-edited a collection of essays on French science-fiction in film, literature and comics, and written a book on Stanley Kubrick’s career as a photojournalist, in which he argues that Kubrick’s better known work as a filmmaker owes much to the post-war visual aesthetics of photomagazines, as well as their dominant themes and storytelling conventions.

His current research focuses on orientalism in film, specifically Western representations of the city-state of Singapore. He plans to develop a typology of orientalist tropes based in part on the work of Edward Said. His most recent publications are: “Shanghaied in Singapore: Dogmas of Orientalism” in Canadian Journal of Film Studies Vol. 29, No. 2 (Fall 2020), and “Intercultural Sensitivity in Orientalist Cinema” in East Asian Journal of Popular Culture Vol. 6, No. 2 (Fall 2020).

In 2019, he received The Image International Award for Excellence, for his article “Orientalist Stylometry: A Statistical Approach to the Analysis of Orientalist Cinema”, published in The International Journal of the Image, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.11-17. The winning article was selected from the ten highest-ranked articles emerging from the peer review process.

He has an ongoing interest in science-fiction film, which was the topic of his doctoral dissertation, where he proposed a semiotic definition of the genre. He has also taught courses on film music, a frequently overlooked topic due to its allegedly technical nature, an impression that he always seeks to demystify.

Research Interests

Current Scholarly Projects

I am currently doing research on orientalism in film, using Singapore as a case study.

Representative Publications

“Intercultural sensitivity in Orientalist cinema”
East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, Vol.6 No.2 (October 2020).

This article argues that it is possible to measure the behaviour of fictional characters on a continuum describing intercultural sensitivity to assess how these characters appear to respond to the idea of cultural differences, broadly ranging from the most ethnocentric views to more ethnorelative ones. The intercultural development continuum (IDC) is structured as five developmental stages that provide a finer psychological template than Orientalist binaries, offering a more nuanced view of character motivations and attitudes.

“Shanghaied in Singapore: Dogmas of Orientalism”
Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Vol.29 No.2 (Fall 2020).

This article proposes a close examination of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978), to counter the standard critique that Said’s analysis suffers from the same essentialist binarism that he identifies in Orientalist discourse. It is argued that Said’s work is more nuanced than is often implied while remaining a fairly clear paradigm that allows for a multi-dimensional study of filmic texts: 1) locating patterns within representations of the East; 2) evaluating degrees of conformance to Orientalist stereotypes; and 3) charting the evolution of Orientalist discourse in film, noting both enduring themes and new variations such as techno-Orientalism.

“Orientalist Stylometry: a Statistical Approach to the Analysis of Orientalist Cinema”
The International Journal of the Image, Vol.10 No.3 (September 2019).

This article focuses on Euro-American representations of the island-city-state of Singapore as a case study, including textual analyses of a sample of narrative fiction films produced between World War II and the present. The method employed is statistical analyses of film style, inspired by the work of Barry Salt and Jeremy Butler. By identifying stylistic and image content parameters such as shot length, shot size, point-of-view editing, the presence/absence of Asian versus Caucasian characters and languages spoken, and correlating this data to Edward Said’s dogmas of orientalism, it becomes possible to uncover information that had previously gone unnoticed, and can lead to new insights regarding orientalist discourse in the cinema.

Stanley Kubrick at Look Magazine: Authorship and Genre in Photojournalism and Film
(Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2012).

This book discusses Kubrick’s early work as a photojournalist in terms of his personal development, of the institutional framework of Look magazine, and of the norms and conventions of photojournalism in the 1940s. It also outlines the two-way interaction between the media of film and photojournalism from the late 1930s to the 1950s. This helps to explain how Kubrick came to master certain photographic and narrative skills and develop particular thematic interests which initially gave his photojournalistic work a distinctive quality and then formed the basis for his work as a filmmaker. It is also shown that throughout his long career as a filmmaker, Kubrick consistently referred back to certain aspects of his early photojournalistic work.

“Science-fiction et cognition”
Cinémas, Vol.12, No.2 (Winter 2002).

This article seeks to evaluate the scientific contributions of cognitive psychology to genre theory and science-fiction film theory in particular. The science-fiction genre’s thematic lexicon is called upon to illustrate the concept of cognitive schemata, as put forth by David Bordwell. Torben Grodal’s cognitive theory of emotions is also examined for its potential explanatory value in regards to the science-fiction genre’s emotional parameter, estrangement.

“Figures of Estrangement in Science Fiction Film”
Science Fiction Studies, #87, Vol.29, Part 2 (July 2002).

This essay offers a descriptive system intended to address film-specific phenomena in terms consonant with Darko Suvin’s analysis of the forms of estrangement found in sf literature. I propose a semiotic analysis of sf film, focusing on a typology of figures of estrangement, conceived as a centripetal relation between processes of alienation and naturalization. My typology of figures is based on Louis Hjelmslev’s chart illustrating the structure of the linguistic sign as adapted by the Belgian Mu Group. Since the sf genre’s distinctive traits are not tied to medium-specific criteria, I argue that a structural approach can usefully characterize sf film’s formal strategies without severing its rhetorical and ideological ties to other forms of sf, including literature.