Feminist Film Theory: A Reader by Sue Thornham

By Sue Thornham

For the prior twenty-five years, cinema has been a necessary terrain on which feminist debates approximately tradition, illustration, and identification were fought. This anthology charts the historical past of these debates, bringing jointly the main, vintage essays in feminist movie idea. Feminist movie Theory maps the impression of significant theoretical advancements in this turning out to be field-from structuralism and psychoanalysis within the Nineteen Seventies, to post-colonial concept, queer idea, and postmodernism within the 1990s.

Covering quite a lot of issues, together with oppressive photos, "woman" as fetishized item of hope, woman spectatorship, and the cinematic pleasures of black girls and lesbian ladies, Feminist movie Theory is an crucial reference for students and scholars within the field.

Contributors contain Judith Butler, Carol J. Clover, Barbara Creed, Michelle Citron, Mary Ann Doane, Teresa De Lauretis, Jane Gaines, Christine Gledhill, Molly Haskell, bell hooks, Claire Johnston, Annette Kuhn, Julia Lesage, Judith Mayne, Tania Modleski, Laura Mulvey, B. Ruby wealthy, Kaja Silverman, Sharon Smith, Jackie Stacey, Janet Staiger, Anna Marie Taylor, Valerie Walkerdine, and Linda Williams.

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What the camera in fact grasps is the 'natural' world of the dominant ideology. Women's cinema cannot afford such idealism; the 'truth' of our oppression cannot be 'captured' on celluloid with the 'innocence' of the camera: it has to be constructed/manufactured. New meanings have to be created by disrupting the fabric of the male bourgeois cinema within the text of the film. As Peter Wollen points out, 'reality is always adaptive'. Eisenstein's method is instructive here. In his use of fragmentation as a revolutionary strategy, a concept is generated by the clash of two specific images, so that it serves as an abstract concept in the filmic discourse.

The inconveniences the child will cause (to an unwed mother, for example) and which are the source of her aversion, become trials actively sought as tests of her mother-love [. ] The mother's excessive and covertly erotic attachment to her children leads to a sense of bereavement, of the mistress 'spurned,' when they grow up and away from her. Once again the 'woman's film' provides her with myths to support her sense of betrayal, to give her the sweet taste of revenge. ' In the materialism with which mothers like Stella Dallas and Mildred Pierce smother their children (a figurative rendering of the cultural advantages, higher education, and 'quality' friends, in which the children go beyond their parents), in pushing them to want 'more,' they are creating monsters who will reject and be 'ashamed' of them; simultaneously, the children's heartlessness will vindicate and earn audience sympathy for the mothers.

In either case, the purgative sensationsthe joy of suffering, the pain of joyare very close. But not identical. Indeed, most of the thirties' and forties' woman's films ended tragically, an indication perhaps of the vision women had of themselves. In the second category, the heroine is struck by some 'affliction' which she keeps a secret and eventually either dies unblemished (Dark Victory), despite the efforts of her doctor-turned-lover, or is cured (The Magnificent Obsession), by the efforts of her lover-turned-doctor.

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