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British feminist film theorist, Laura Mulvey , best known for her essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema", written in and published in in the influential British film theory journal, Screen [3] was influenced by the theories of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Prior to Mulvey, film theorists such as Jean-Louis Baudry and Christian Metz used psychoanalytic ideas in their theoretical accounts of cinema.

Mulvey's contribution, however, initiated the intersection of film theory , psychoanalysis and feminism. Other key influences come from Metz's essay The Imaginary Signifier , "Identification, Mirror," where he argues that viewing film is only possible through scopophilia pleasure from looking, related to voyeurism , which is best exemplified in silent film. Freeland in "Feminist Frameworks for Horror Films," feminist studies of horror films have focused on psychodynamics where the chief interest is "on viewers' motives and interests in watching horror films".

Beginning in the early s feminist film theory began to look at film through a more intersectional lens. The film journal Jump Cut published a special issue about titled "Lesbians and Film" in which examined the lack of lesbian identities in film.

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While Lola Young argues that filmmakers of all races fail to break away from the use to tired stereotypes when depicting black women. Other theorists who wrote about feminist film theory and race include bell hooks and Michele Wallace. From the onward the Matrixial theory of artist and psychoanalyst Bracha L. Ettinger [8] revolutionized feminist film theory.

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The matrixial gaze offers the female the position of a subject, not of an object, of the gaze, while deconstructing the structure of the subject itself, and offers border-time, border-space and a possibility for compassion and witnessing. Ettinger's notions articulate the links between aesthetics, ethics and trauma. Recently, scholars have expanded their work to include analysis of television and digital media.

Additionally, they have begun to explore notions of difference, engaging in dialogue about the differences among women part of movement away from essentialism in feminist work more generally , the various methodologies and perspectives contained under the umbrella of feminist film theory, and the multiplicity of methods and intended effects that influence the development of films. Scholars are also taking increasingly global perspectives, responding to postcolonialist criticisms of perceived Anglo- and Eurocentrism in the academy more generally.

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Increased focus has been given to, "disparate feminisms, nationalisms, and media in various locations and across class, racial, and ethnic groups throughout the world". Considering the way that films are put together, many feminist film critics have pointed to what they argue is the " male gaze " that predominates classical Hollywood filmmaking.

Budd Boetticher summarizes the view:. Laura Mulvey expands on this conception to argue that in cinema, women are typically depicted in a passive role that provides visual pleasure through scopophilia, [18] : 30 and identification with the on-screen male actor. While Laura Mulvey's paper has a particular place in the feminist film theory, it is important to note that her ideas regarding ways of watching the cinema from the voyeuristic element to the feelings of identification are important to some feminist film theorists in terms of defining spectatorship from the psychoanalytical viewpoint.

Mulvey identifies three "looks" or perspectives that occur in film which, she argues, serve to sexually objectify women. The first is the perspective of the male character and how he perceives the female character.

Of relations and rights -- interview with Luce Irigaray

The second is the perspective of the spectator as they see the female character on screen. The third "look" joins the first two looks together: it is the male audience member's perspective of the male character in the film. This third perspective allows the male audience to take the female character as his own personal sex object because he can relate himself, through looking, to the male character in the film. In the paper, Mulvey calls for a destruction of modern film structure as the only way to free women from their sexual objectification in film. She argues for a removal of the voyeurism encoded into film by creating distance between the male spectator and the female character.

The only way to do so, Mulvey argues, is by destroying the element of voyeurism and "the invisible guest". Mulvey also asserts that the dominance men embody is only so because women exist, as without a woman for comparison, a man and his supremacy as the controller of visual pleasure are insignificant.

For Mulvey, it is the presence of the female that defines the patriarchal order of society as well as the male psychology of thought. Mulvey's argument is likely influenced by the time period in which she was writing. Mulvey calls for an eradication of female sexual objectivity, aligning herself with second-wave feminism. She argues that in order for women to be equally represented in the workplace, women must be portrayed as men are: as lacking sexual objectification.

The inference is that she includes female spectators in that, identifying with the male observer rather than the female object of the gaze. The early work of Marjorie Rosen and Molly Haskell on the representation of women in film was part of a movement to depict women more realistically, both in documentaries and narrative cinema.

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A Feminine Cinematics

The growing female presence in the film industry was seen as a positive step toward realizing this goal, by drawing attention to feminist issues and putting forth an alternative, true-to-life view of women. However, Rosen and Haskell argue that these images are still mediated by the same factors as traditional film, such as the "moving camera, composition, editing, lighting, and all varieties of sound.

Claire Johnston put forth the idea that women's cinema can function as "counter cinema. In reaction to this article, many women filmmakers integrated "alternative forms and experimental techniques" to "encourage audiences to critique the seemingly transparent images on the screen and to question the manipulative techniques of filming and editing". Ruby Rich argues that feminist film theory should shift to look at films in a broader sense. Rich's essay In the Name of Feminist Film Criticism claims that films by women often receive praise for certain elements, while feminist undertones are ignored.

Film and Female Consciousness: Irigaray, Cinema and Thinking Women – FWSA Blog

Rich goes on to say that because of this feminist theory needs to focus on how film by women are being received. Carol Clover , in her popular and influential book, Men, Women, and Chainsaws : Gender in the Modern Horror Film Princeton University Press, , argues that young male viewers of the Horror Genre young males being the primary demographic are quite prepared to identify with the female-in-jeopardy, a key component of the horror narrative, and to identify on an unexpectedly profound level. Clover further argues that the " Final Girl " in the psychosexual subgenre of exploitation horror invariably triumphs through her own resourcefulness, and is not by any means a passive, or inevitable, victim.

Laura Mulvey, in response to these and other criticisms, revisited the topic in "Afterthoughts on 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' inspired by Duel in the Sun " In addressing the heterosexual female spectator, she revised her stance to argue that women can take two possible roles in relation to film: a masochistic identification with the female object of desire that is ultimately self-defeating or a transsexual identification with men as the active viewers of the text.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on Feminism History.


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  8. Abstract Funding details. Publications The following are buttons which change the sort order, pressing the active button will toggle the sort order Author Name descending press to sort ascending. Key Findings Engagement Activities. Description This project was the first to use the work of Luce Irigaray to interrogate themes of femininity in films made by women. Exploitation Route This work is widely used in the context of film studies. Sectors Education.