© 2016

Film and the Ethical Imagination


  • First book to present a unified theory of what a visual ethics might involve

  • Presents the new concept of a biovisual ethics

  • Offers a systematic account of the history of the ethical turn both in literature, film and visual culture

  • Advances a new conceptualization of ethics in the cinema that is grounded in the imaginative worlds of the films themselves


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Ethics

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 3-15
    3. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 23-29
    4. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 31-43
    5. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 45-51
    6. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 75-83
    7. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 85-99
  3. Imagination

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 101-101
    2. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 103-117
    3. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 119-135
    4. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 137-150
    5. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 151-160
    6. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 161-167
    7. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 169-180
    8. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 181-205
    9. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 207-218
    10. Asbjørn Grønstad
      Pages 219-239

About this book


This book provides a comprehensive, critical overview of the turn to ethics in literature, film, and visual culture. It discusses the concept of a biovisual ethics, offering a new theory of the relation between film and ethics based on the premise that images are capable of generating their own ethical content. This ethics operates hermeneutically and materializes in cinema’s unique power to show us other modes of being. The author considers a wealth of contemporary art films and documentaries that embody ethical issues through the very form of the text. The ethical imagination generated by films such as The Nine Muses, Post Tenebras Lux, Amour, and Nostalgia For the Light is crucially defined by openness, uncertainty, opacity, and the refusal of hegemonic practices of visual representation.


Ethics art cinema aesthetics imagination ecology of images film theory Levinas Shirin Amour The Nine Muses Leviathan Post Tenebras Lux Nostalgia For the Light This is Not a Film

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information Science and Media StudiesUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

About the authors

Asbjørn Grønstad is professor of visual culture in the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, where he is also founding director of the Nomadikon Center for Visual Culture Studies. The author or editor of nine books and numerous articles, his latest publication is Seeing Whole: Toward an Ethics and Ecology of Sight (co-edited with Mark Ledbetter, 2016).

Bibliographic information


“Grønstad’s thought-provoking work provides a significant and novel contribution to the investigation of the relationship between ethics and film form.” (Andrew Jones, Film-Philosophy, Vol. 23, 2019)

“Film and the Ethical Imagination is a significant contribution to the field of film ethics; it does not set itself up as a survey of the field, but offers efficient overviews of developments in the past twenty years, as well as makes certain original contributions … .” (Jonathan Wright, Film Matters, Vol. 09 (2), 2019)