Allison Ross, has been awarded a Mary Gates Research Scholarship for work on her honor's project with Professor Jennifer Bean. Her project "Open-Ended Cinema,"connects and exemplifies the dialogic theory put forth by Mikhail Bakhtin and furthered by later film theorists such as Robert Stam and Kobena Mercer to ethical notions around retributive action and individual responsibility, specifically the implications when Kant’s Law of Retribution and Humanity Formulation come into conflict.
Dialogics, unlike dialectics which often reinforces dichotomies, generates a polyphony of foci and meanings, allowing for a nuance and simultaneity of discourses permitting audiences to fully negotiate the complexities of ambiguous situations without the impulse toward reduction that often threatens to accompany resolution.
This analysis is illustrated in an original screenplay, entitled Crisscross, addressing ethical questions around retribution. The protagonist creates an “ideal scenario” under which Kantian principles would be unquestionably applicable. The film attempts to be in conversation with itself without being overtly referential (something Bakhtin cautions against). Ultimately, Crisscross explores how one negotiates perceptions of absolute rationality while also living in and of the world.