Reclaiming the Archive
Feminism and Film History
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History is truly a collaborative work that would not have been completed without the efforts and support of many people. My desire to make the book as inclusive as possible produced issues of scope, size, and duration that required what seemed at times like an army of feminist volunteers to see it to completion. ...
Introduction: Reclaiming the Archive: Archaeological Explorations toward a Feminism 3.0
This book was inspired by the graduate students in my feminism and film theory seminar at UCLA a few years ago. As we worked through an array of texts from nineteenth-century women’s rights polemics to various 1970s manifestos to contemporary readings on the complexity of film spectatorship and commentaries on postfeminism, it became clear that ...
I. Gazing Outward: The Spectrum of Feminist Reception History
1. Unmasking the Gaze: Feminist Film Theory, History, and Film Studies
When I was thinking about the title I had chosen for this article, “Unmasking the Gaze,” I found that, unexpectedly, one of the cinema’s most famous images persistently came to my mind—the opening sequence of Buñuel/Dali’s Un chien andalou (1928) in which a man’s hand cuts open a woman’s eye with a razor. My recollection of this image seemed unexpected ...
2. Les Belles Dames sans Merci, Femmes Fatales, Vampires, Vamps, and Gold Diggers: The Transformation and Narrative Value of Aggressive Fallen Women
This essay is about continuity and difference, about things remaining the same but also changing. It is about the appearance and reappearance of an aggressive woman, but it is likewise about historical transformations in that aggressive woman. That such continuity and difference exist—particularly over the past two hundred years—is easy to explain. Continuity persists ...
3. “I wanted life to be romantic, and I wanted to be thin”: Girls Growing Up with Cinema in the 1930s
Popular memory as well as historical record have it that in Britain cinema began to enjoy its greatest popularity during the 1930s. It has been claimed that Britain had the highest annual per capita cinema attendance in the world, and it is certainly true that for considerable sectors of the population “the pictures” became an integral part of daily life during the decade. ...
4. The “True Love” of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor’s invocation of the reality of her romantic relation with the actor Richard Burton, as well as her and Burton’s repeated public declarations that they would die without the other, helped to secure for the pair permanent placement in the annals of Hollywood’s most celebrated loves. In 1996, People magazine featured Taylor and Burton in their special ...
5. “She Will Never Look”: Film Spectatorship, Black Feminism, and Scary Subjectivities
In a 1966 Negro Digest article, the actress Ruby Dee laments the ways in which she and other black women actors face “double discrimination— that of sex and that of race.”1 Moreover, Dee goes on to say that a dearth of rewarding artistic material leaves the artists mere “tattered queens” who tend to retire too early or simply disappear from public life without explanation ...
II. Rewriting Authorship
6. Lois Weber, Star Maker
Historians often lament the fact that Lois Weber, the silent era’s premiere female filmmaker, did not leave a memoir or autobiography for us to study, especially when so many of her contemporaries wrote memorably of their time in early Hollywood. Alice Guy-Blaché, Nell Shipman, Frances Marion, Mary Pickford, and Anita Loos, among a host of others, all published ...
7. Reading as a Woman: The Collaboration of Ayako Wakao and Yasuzo Masumura
My own experience as a spectator of the films of Ayako Wakao, the actress most representative of Yasuzo Masumura’s unique depictions of women, has been one fraught with ambivalence and inner contradiction. Indeed, Wakao, with her singular voice and aura of eroticism, attracted not only men during her tenure as a Daiei studio’s leading star, and later as a television ...
8. Women in the Nouvelle Vague: The Lost Continent?
The cinema is a privileged terrain in which to study the construction of gender identities and of representations of gender relations, because the majority of fiction films focus on individual relations between men and women or between people of the same sex. And yet, “gender studies,” widespread in Britain and the United States today, where they have more ...
9. Investigating an Interval: Sarah Bernhardt, Hamlet, and the Paris Exposition of 1900
In 1900 film was a nascent medium. The academic scholarship that would, some fifty years later, validate the distinction between film and the other arts (particularly film and the theater) was clearly not yet part of how film was imagined, publicized, and exhibited. Indeed, the idea that film offered a vision of a transparent and natural world, that it was a self-sustaining and ...
10. Vision and Visibility: Women Filmmakers, Contemporary Authorship, and Feminist Film Studies
In her exploration of two Kathryn Bigelow films, Near Dark (1987) and Blue Steel (1990), Anna Powell observes in passing that auteurism “has a particular resonance within feminism.”1 While I agree absolutely that women filmmakers matter for a feminist cultural politics, it can be difficult to establish precisely why, not least since authorship is often regarded as a ...
11. Black and White: Mercedes de Acosta’s Glorious Enthusiasms
A June 1934 Vanity Fair item highlighted for its readers the latest roles of movie royalty Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich as Queen Christina and Catherine the Great, respectively, with “a composite photograph by Edward Steichen,” “ingeniously constructed by superimposing two separate pictures . . . [of ] those rival Nordic deities of Hollywood.”1 The image ...
III. Excavating Early Cinema
12. Vitagraph Stardom: Constructing Personalities for “New” Middle-Class Consumption
Answering a query from a curious fan identified as J. M. in New York in 1911, the editors of Motion Picture Story Magazine state, “Maurice Costello does not ‘hire out’ for Vitagraph nights. He is very courteous in complying with requests for public appearances, but he receives no fee for his work.” Apparently, J. M., most likely female, wished to see her idol in person. ...
13. Clara, Ouida, Beulah, et. al.: Women Screenwriters in American Silent Cinema
In the United States between 1915 and 1930, “the industry’s leading scenarists were[,] by large majority, women.”1 “From the end of the century to the mid-Twenties, women outnumbered men in the screen writing trade ten to one.”2 These women writers wrote more than one-third (at least) of American silent films, and at times they were very successful professionals, ...
14. Making More than a Spectacle of Themselves: Creating the Militant Suffragette in Votes for Women
If there is one thing that feminist historians have made quite clear, it is that archival “evidence” must be contextualized in order for its cultural significance to become apparent. Women’s diaries, for instance, were once thought to be unworthy of study and now are at the core of many historical research projects. In the case of films made by and about the woman ...
15. Visualizing the Modern Mexican Woman: Santa and Cinematic Nation-Building
Santa (1931), one of the first successful Mexican sound films released during the transformation from silent to sound cinema in Mexico, was adapted from a popular novel of the same name published in 1902 by the Mexican writer Federico Gamboa. Directed by the Spanish émigré Antonio Moreno and starring Lupita Tovar, the film was the second film adaptation of Gamboa’s novel. ...
16. Sisters in Rebellion: The Unexpected Kinship of Germaine Dulac and Virginia Woolf
At some point during the last decade of the twentieth century I learned that the Tavistock Hotel, where I’d stay when in London, had been built on the site of what used to be the Hogarth Press, at Virginia and Leonard Woolf ’s Bloomsbury home before it was obliterated during the bombing of World War II. This was one reason that Woolf was writing what turned ...
IV. Constructing a (Post)feminist Future
17. “Misty Water-Colored Memories of the Way We Were . . .”: Postfeminist Nostalgia in Contemporary Romance Narratives
Katie, the female protagonist played by Barbra Streisand in the 1973 romance film The Way We Were, is presumably the subject speaking the lines from the film’s theme song, from which this article takes its title. The lyrics to the song express ambivalence about the role that time plays in the process of making sense of romance and suggest that events from the past—in ...
18. On Cyberfeminism and Cyberwomanism: High-Tech Mediations of Feminism’s Discontents
By the year 2000, an important survey of the so-called gender divide in Internet usage concluded that for the first time, the number of U.S. women online equaled that of their male counterparts.1 A year later, it was reported that American women even outpaced men in online participation. However, it should not be surprising that globally the percentage of women online ...
19. The Birth of the Local Feminist Sphere in the Global Era: Yeoseongjang and “Trans-cinema”
My approach to the principal question that inspired this anthology, namely, the invitation to think about feminism and a cinema archive, is rather complex and may at first seem somewhat oblique. An archive is typically an extension of a canon. I am interested in what is excluded from the canon, and what exceeds archival conservation. My focus includes not only ...
20. The Future of the Archive: An Interview with Lynn Hershman Leeson
As I was working on revisions for this collection, I fortuitously came upon a presentation from the 2007 SIGGRAPH conference by Henrik Bennetsen, the project manager and developer for Life Squared, a virtual archive in Second Life of the artist Lynn Hershman Leeson’s work. Life Squared is an online venture produced in collaboration with Hershman Leeson and ...
Page Count: 472
Publication Year: 2010
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series
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