Graphic of an exploding head from Scanners

The Science of Cronenberg: Annotated Bibliography

Cornea, Christine. “David Cronenberg's Crash and Performing Cyborgs.” The Velvet Light Trap: A Critical Journal of Film & Television 52 (2003): 4-14.

Christine Cornea explores mainstream cinematic depictions of the cyborg as they relate to practices of performance art, with a focus on Cronenberg's Crash (1996). She situates the characters of Crash as enmeshed in the technological, their bodies mutating through a “cyborgization” process. Cornea dissects the psychological aspect of method acting as it is parodied in Crash by alluding to Freudian psychoanalysis. Crash's technological environment is placed in relation to such films as The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984) and The Matrix (The Wachowskis, 1999) to highlight the varying formulations of cyborg transformations that are portrayed in mainstream cinema.

Cruz, Marcos. “Synthetic Neoplasms.” Architectural Design 78, no. 6 (2008): 36-43.

Marcos Cruz labels the game-pods of Cronenberg's eXistenZ (1999) as synthetic neoplasms due to their “semi-living” status and scientifically designed origins. He goes on to address the reciprocal relationship between the game-pods and the human body. He ultimately recognizes the film’s insinuations on the biology of the body within a 20th century scientifically advanced world.

Frank, Marcie. “The Camera and the Speculum: David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers.” PMLA 106, no. 3 (1991): 459-470.

Focusing on how an investigative camera in cinema can mirror the explorative gynecological examination and the imagery in Dead Ringers, Marcie Frank elucidates the film’s politics on gender and twinship. Employing psychoanalytic theory through a feminist lens, she locates the Mantle twins within the film’s gendered framework as their medical and personal experiments expose their misogyny.

Gomel, Elana and Stephen Weninger. “Cronenberg, Greenaway, and the Ideologies of Twinship.” Body & Society 9, no. 3 (2003): 19-35.

This article discusses the portrait of twinship in Cronenberg's Dead Ringers as both narcissistic and monstrous. Gomel and Weninger assess cultural notions of cloning and the mutating body through the differing views of left-wing and right-wing biological studies. Acknowledging the link between the Mantle brothers and science through their roles as gynecologists, the authors assess the brothers’ views on the monstrous body in relation to their newfound sexual desires. From a biopolitical framework, these ideas are explored in relation to Peter Greenaway's A Zed and Two Noughts (1986) as well as to the history of Nazi eugenics to convey the potential impact that utopian ideals of twinship could have on society.

Grant, Barry Keith and Christopher Sharrett, eds. Planks of Reason: Essays on the Horror Film. Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1984.

This collection features essays that investigate the attraction to horror films as well as the genre's common themes, characters, and conventions. The second half of the book contains criticisms on specific horror films, from Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922) to The Hills Have Eyes (Alexandre Aja, 2006). Mary B. Campbell turns our attention to the interconnectedness of sexuality and disease in Cronenberg's films with her article, “Biological Alchemy and the Films of David Cronenberg.” She argues that his films play on our fears of contagion by showcasing diseases that attack our anatomies through sexuality and the reproductive system.

Grant, Michael. Dead Ringers. Great Britain: Cinetek, 1997.

Michael Grant’s book provides an overview of the themes presented in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. After a brief discussion of the film’s ideas of “mutant women” in relation to the Mantles’ gynecological studies, Grant turns to the film’s Shakespearean qualities, its employment of continuity editing in constructing character, and Cronenberg’s artistry as it is portrayed through the film.

Hotchkiss, Liam M. “'Still in the Game': Cyber-transformations and ‘the new flesh' in David Cronenberg's eXistenZ.” The Velvet Light Trap: A Critical Journal of Film & Television 52 (2003): 15-32.

Liam Hotchkiss compares Cronenberg's Videodrome (1983) and eXistenZ in regards to how each delineates the interconnected sciences of technology and biology as they impact the human body. Hotchkiss finds that these films as well as various other mainstream “cyberthrillers” implicate virtual realities in the technologization of the mind and body as cyberculture users aim to transcend their bodies. He goes on to evaluate the films' characters as they reflect gaming structures of community, transformation of the body, and even the sexualization of virtual reality.

Kapsalis, Terri Andrea. “The Pelvic Exam as Performance: Power, Spectacle, and Gynecology.” ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Northwestern University, United States, Ph. D. 1994.

This dissertation evaluates medical studies of female genitals in their pathological inferences, exclusion of the body’s sexuality, and power dynamics in relation to pelvic exams. Kapsalis implies that Cronenberg aligns himself with medical discourse, situating himself as a “cinematic surgeon” through the control he exerts over his scientific narratives. She follows up this point with a psychoanalytic assessment of the pathologized females in both Dead Ringers and Rabid (1977), as they are made objects of (in the case of Dead Ringers, scientific) male spectatorship. Kapsalis further outlines the ways in which Dead Ringers can be read as a critique of medical science in its treatment of women by implicating male gynecologists as spectators of the female body.

Komrad, Mark S. “A Dangerous Method: Ethics at the Dawn of Modern Psychiatry.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online 40, no. 2 (2012): 299-301.

Mark Komrad gives a brief account of A Dangerous Method’s (2011) intersection with reality through its depiction of the history of psychoanalysis. He outlines how the film takes on the ethics of doctor-patient boundaries by portraying its protagonists’ deferral from said boundaries. The article’s message concludes that this film portrays a truth in its depiction of history and that crossing of ethical boundaries in professional relationships could be better regulated.

Lavery, David. “From Cinespace to Cyberspace: Zionists and Agents, Realists and Gamers in The Matrix and eXistenZ.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 28, no. 4 (2001): 150-157.

David Lavery looks at Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and the Wachowskis’ The Matrix in their depictions of futuristic cyberspaces. This brief article hints at a potential future where humans are replaced by machines, in the light of growing cultural obsession with technological advancement with which these two films are complacent. A summary of the two films’ plotlines highlights their themes of virtual reality and the notion of technology overtaking society.

Lowenstein, Adam. “A Dangerous Method: Sight Unseen.” Film Quarterly 65, no. 3 (2012): 24-32.

This critique of David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method compares the film to his previous works. Adam Lowenstein outlines the differing uses of psychotherapy in A Dangerous Method and The Brood (1979) as they refine the protagonists’ distinctive attributes. He goes on to discuss themes of anti-Semitism, femininity, and the Freudian theory of the death drive as it relates to Cronenberg’s cinematic “demon in the corner.” These concepts as depicted in A Dangerous Method are presented as they reflect ideas seen in Dead Ringers, Transfer (1966), A History of Violence (2005), and more.

Maher, JaneMaree. “‘We Don’t Do Babies’: Reproduction in David Cronenburg’s Dead Ringers.” Journal of Gender Studies 11, no. 2 (2002): 119-128.

Maher examines the modes of cinematic as well as medical spectatorship in Dead Ringers, and the use of one actor to play identical twins. She suggests that the film sidelines the medically real female body to, instead, outline these gazes that reflect the unreliable nature of eyesight in the film’s imagery for the womb, the fetus, and other aspects of the female reproductive system.

Porton, Richard. “Filming Dangerously: An Interview with David Cronenberg.” Cineaste 37, no. 1 (2011): 18-22, 78.

In Richard Porton’s interview with David Cronenberg, he asks questions about style, historical placement, and scientific theories as they are seen in A Dangerous Method. Cronenberg speaks of the film’s emphasis on the psychoanalytic theories of both Freud and Jung and how his knowledge of their respective histories impacted his direction. He further addresses the accuracy of Kiera Knightley’s performance as a woman stricken with hysteria as well as notions of adapting the screenplay from Christopher Hampton’s play "The Talking Cure" and even the intersection between Freud’s Jewish identity and Jung’s allegedly anti-Semite attitude.

Seegert, Alfred. “Cybercultural Ecologies: Interfacing Nature, Virtuality, and Narrative.” ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. The University of Utah, United States, Ph. D, 2010.

Alfred Seegert explores a fear that, through technological interfaces, humans will become completely and unwittingly severed from reality, permanently altering perceptions of our natural states of being. His arguments are made in an analysis of narratives that emphasize technological advancement, including Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and Videodrome. In a section entitled “‘The Flesh is Dead – Long Live the New Flesh’: Cronenberg’s Corporealized Virtuality,” Seegert suggests that Cronenberg’s films portray technology as infiltrating the human body in a uniquely reciprocal relationship.