David Denny, culture and media professor, co-edited a book of essays on contemporary filmmaker Lars von Trier, published by Bloomsbury Academic in late 2016.
Danish director Lars von Trier is considered one of the world’s most important and controversial filmmakers. He has been criticized for subjecting his female characters to unacceptable levels of violence; at other times, it is the women in his films who are dominant or break out in violence.
In Lars von Trier’s Women, David Denny and co-editor Rex Butler do not take a position either for or against von Trier. Through their selection of essays by experts in film studies, culture and philosophy such as Linda Badley, Slavoj Žižek, Todd McGowan and Lorenzo Chiesa, the editors consider how both attitudes fall short of the real difficulty of von Trier’s films, which may simply not conform to any kind of feminist or anti-feminist politics.
In addition to serving as co-editor, Dr. Denny contributed the essay A Postmodern Family Romance: Antichrist and co-wrote the book’s introduction: The Feminine Act and the Question of Women in Lars von Trier’s films.
LitHub.com selected Lars von Trier’s Women as one of 16 Books You Should Read This Winter, saying:
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Lars von Trier is one of the boldest filmmakers working today. One of the biggest controversial topics surrounding his oeuvre is his relationship with women … Rex Butler and David Denny have put together a collection of essays on Lars von Trier’s films that speak solely to this complicated aspect of his work … the pieces allow you to dwell in the weird worlds von Trier creates and contemplate what to make of his predilections and provocations and politics. If you’re a contemporary cinema aficionado—and in particular if you’re interested in the work of Lars von Trier—this collection of in-depth film analyses is worth checking out.
Respected social theorist Alenka Zupancic of the Research Center of the Slovene Academy of Science gave the book high praise:
Lars von Trier’s Women is much more than a collection of essays – it is a very powerful critical project going right to the heart of the oeuvre of one of the greatest and most intriguing contemporary directors. This heart concerns not simply “von Trier’s women,” but with them and beyond them the question and the dimension of a genuine act at work in von Trier’s art. The singularity of von Trier’s opus works as an extremely productive trigger of the essays written by some of the most significant authors in contemporary theory. Lars von Trier’s Women is a magnificent cocktail of cinema, philosophy, psychoanalysis and film theory.
David Denny teaches communication, media and culture at Marylhurst University. He has published on the intersection of critical theory, psychoanalysis, film and politics, including journal articles in The International Journal of Žižek Studies and Theory and Event. An essay by Dr. Denny on Lars von Trier’s film Meloncholia appears in the book Cinematic Cuts (SUNY Press, 2016).