Emotional contagion and co-authored family narratives in parenthood

Wyatt Moss-Wellington

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Parenthood (Ron Howard, 1989) is a landmark ensemble film that would influence later domestic dramedies across the millennium. This article revisits the film to exhume some of its unique insights into affective contagions across family units and within residential spaces. It makes a case for the way creative contagions in filmmaking collaborative labor and ensemble acting might translate to the screen. Working from a foundational close analysis of the shot structure, sound design, and performances in one pivotal scene between Dianne Wiest and Leaf (Joaquin) Phoenix, I argue that this reading demonstrates social psychology’s use in evaluative hermeneutics, and likewise the way narrative film productively elaborates worlds from the phenomena psychological sciences describe. Throughout the close reading, an argument emerges for further appreciation of the affectively transactive nature of on-screen domestic studies, and their capacity to encourage close listening to proximate others in propinquitous environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-320
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Co-authorship
  • Emotional contagion
  • Ensemble cinema
  • Family systems
  • Humanism
  • Ron Howard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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