Documenting the expert the films of Errol Morris /

by Paasche, James.

Abstract (Summary)
Marilyn Motz, Chair In a society increasingly influenced by the pronouncements of experts, it is important to examine the rhetorical construction of expertise. Experts exert their power by the language they use to describe their fields of expertise. Gaining their power by the authority invested in them within their demarcated field, experts often stray outside the boundaries of their expertise. They pass judgment or offer opinions founded not on a wealth of knowledge, but from an assumed position of power and respect. Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris focuses his films on the language of his subjects, be they worm farmers or heads of state. Morris’s desire to capture the subjective malleability of truth mirrors the expert’s verbal construction of his own expertise. Lost within the worlds they have created in their minds, Morris’s subjects offer differing examples of the expert both within the dominant power system and outside of it. Morris examines how the power of language allows his subjects to become experts in whatever field, real or imaginary, they choose. This thesis combines modern theoretical explorations of the functions of the expert with close readings of Morris’s films. By centering his films on the language of experts, Morris documents an ever-changing, highly personal form of expertise, offering oppositional examples to the hegemonic expert figure that dominates most discussions of expertise. iii This thesis is dedicated to the inspirational experts in my life: Ellie Paasche, Debbie Hellmann, and Courtney Olcott. iv
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:morris errol documentary films language and languages in motion pictures


Date of Publication:

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