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Gender Meets Genre in Postwar Cinemas

Christine Gledhill

Publication Year: 2012

This remarkable collection challenges traditional ways of thinking about the relationship between gender and genre, understanding their meeting as a mutually transformative encounter. Responding to postmodernist conceptions of genre and postfeminist theories of gender and sexuality, these essays move beyond the limits of representation. Testing new thinking about genre, gender, and sexuality against closely analyzed films, they explore generic convention as putting into play what our culture makes of us, while finding in genre's repetitions infinite possibilities of cross-generic, cross-gender, cross-sex permutation. At the same time the aesthetic and emotional dimensions of gender and sexuality emerge as elements fueling the dramatic worlds of film genres, producing in the encounter new gendered perceptions, affects, and effects. _x000B__x000B_Recognizing the intensifying transnational context of film production and responding to postcolonial perspectives, this volume includes essays that explore the transformational transactions between gender and genre in the meeting between world-circulating Hollywood generic practices and American independent, European, Indian, and Hong Kong cinemas. Such revised concepts of genre and gender question taken-for-granted relationships between authorship and genre, between center and periphery, and between feminism and generic filmmaking. They consequently rethink the gendering of genres, filmmakers, and their audiences. _x000B__x000B_Contributors are Ira Bhaskar, Steven Cohan, Luke Collins, Pam Cook, Lucy Fischer, Jane Gaines, Christine Gledhill, Derek Kane-Meddock, E. Ann Kaplan, Samiha Matin, Katie Model, E. Deidre Pribram, Vicente Rodriguez Ortega, Adam Segal, Chris Straayer, Yvonne Tasker, Deborah Thomas, and Xiangyang Chen.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

Genre and gender representation, two key areas of Film Studies, have generated challenging theories and debate. However, bar some notable exceptions (Williams 2000; Clover 1992), these concepts rarely intersect. Studies of gender representation and sexed...

PART ONE. REFIGURING GENRE AND GENDER

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1 The Genius of Genre and Ingenuity of Women

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pp. 15-28

Every reference to the cinema director as author carries the weight of several centuries of literary and art historical criticism. This very weight makes it difficult to argue against authorship in motion-picture industry history. Nevertheless, it is my contention...

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2 No Fixed Address: The Women’s Picture from Outrage to Blue Steel

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pp. 29-40

The women’s picture has played a major role in the development of feminist film criticism, partly in response to a certain tendency in 1970s feminist film theory to prioritize the “male spectator,” and partly as a strategic move to reassess a critically devalued and neglected...

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3 Circulating Emotion: Race, Gender, and Genre in Crash

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pp. 41-53

Crash (Paul Haggis, 2005) follows a range of diverse but intersecting characters who, in their entirety, are meant to represent a social landscape: modern American urban existence. Through an ensemble cast and a multi-story structure, the film depicts a circuitous...

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4 100% Pure Adrenaline: Gender and Generic Surface in Point Break

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pp. 54-68

The platform for this chapter is the contention that we experience Point Break (1991) as generic surface. Despite critical efforts to construct the film as a creative play with masculinity or with the action genre, the film remains culturally and politically ambivalent. As is...

PART TWO. POSTFEMINISM AND GENERIC RE-INVENTIONS

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5 Troubling Genre/Reconstructing Gender

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pp. 71-83

In Film/Genre, Rick Altman notes the irony of “producers . . . actively destroying genres by creating new cycles,” while film scholars “are regularly trying to fold the cyclical differences back into genre, thus authorizing continued use of a familiar, broad-based, sanctioned...

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6 Bodies and Genres in Transition: Girlfight and Real Women Have Curves

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pp. 84-95

Genre cinema depends on an articulation of gendered types and a presentation of bodies defined by gender. The richness and pleasure of genre films has much to do with their iteration and occasional modification of these gendered types. But most genre fictions also assume a central male subject, requiring considerable effort to position...

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7 Private Femininity, Public Femininity: Tactical Aesthetics in the Costume Film

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pp. 96-110

As early as the 1930s, critics categorized the costume film as “feminine,” because it focused on the emotional subject of love in contrast to historical bio-pics that were deemed “masculine” by tending to political topics (Robe 2009, 71). While the distinctions between...

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8 Generic Gleaning: Agnès Varda, Documentary, and the Art of Salvage

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pp. 111-122

In several of her films, Agnès Varda is concerned with the homeless. In Vagabond (Sans toit ne loi, 1985), for instance, she depicts a few weeks in the life of a young female vagrant as she wanders through the French countryside in winter—camping out, scavenging...

PART THREE. GENDER AESTHETICS IN "MALE" GENRES

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9 It’s a Mann’s World?

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pp. 125-134

The director Michael Mann generally works within the genre of the crime film. Within this genre, there is typically a focus placed on the relations among men, with very little emphasis on female characters. Susan White (2001), referring to a 1947 Anthony Mann...

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10 Up Close and Personal: Faces and Names in Casualties of War

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pp. 135-145

For obvious reasons, war films—especially those centered on the battlefield—are likely to be unbalanced in terms of their treatments of gender. The absence of a significant female presence in American films about wars fought overseas is due in part to the fact that their far-flung battlefields and home front are geographically split apart...

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11 Gender Hyperbole and the Uncanny in the Horror Film: The Shining

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pp. 146-158

At its simplest, genre is a play of the familiar and the different. Gender poses similarities and differences between men and women. The uncanny, in all its renditions, flickers between familiarity and strangeness. Gender, genre, and the uncanny in various ways...

PART FOUR. GENRE AND GENDER TRANSNATIONAL

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12 Emotion, Subjectivity, and the Limits of Desire: Melodrama and Modernity in Bombay Cinema, 1940s-

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pp. 161-176

Let us begin with three scenarios of extremity, depictions of limit situations that concern ultimate questions of life, love, death, and meaning: A woman is seated on the floor, with her head on her arm on the bed against which she leans, staring out into space, while a blind singer outside sings of separation and deep...

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13 Woman, Generic Aesthetics, and the Vernacular: Huangmei Opera Films from China to Hong Kong

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pp. 177-190

In 1963, an article entitled “The Wondrous Tale of The Love Eterne & the Miracle of a Film Industry” in Southern Screen, the trade journal of Hong Kong-based Shaw Brothers, captured the phenomenal reception of the studio’s Huangmei opera film, The Love Eterne...

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Chapter 14 Homoeroticism Contained: Gender and Sexual Translation in John Woo’s Migration to Hollywood

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pp. 191-202

This essay compares John Woo’s Hong Kong and Hollywood outputs in order to scrutinize the differing representations of gender they offer in relation to the different generic configurations at work in each production context. I aim to pinpoint which aspects of these representations have passed the test of cultural translatability and which have...

PART FIVE. GENERIC “TRANS-INGS”: BETWEEN GENRES, GENDERS, AND SEXUALITIES

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15 Trash Comes Home: Gender/Genre Subversion in the Films of John Waters

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pp. 205-218

John Waters’s career trajectory is commonly described as a process of assimilation. His early films earned him prominence as a nonconformist, and he seemed to revel in being perceived as a social misfit. When the controversial director published two books in the...

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16 Femme Fatale or Lesbian Femme: Bound in Sexual Différance

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pp. 219-232

In its black-and-white opening title sequence with stark lights and deep shadows, foreboding music, and a moving camera that waves from extreme close-up obscurity to distanced readability (of the title), Bound (Wachowski Brothers, 1996) immediately...

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17 “The Gay Cowboy Movie”: Queer Masculinity on Brokeback Mountain

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pp. 233-242

Before Brokeback Mountain opened theatrically in December 2005, commercial prospects were uncertain for “this ostensible gay Western,” as Todd McCarthy (2005) called it when reviewing...

Bibliography

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pp. 243-256

Contributors

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pp. 257-260

Index

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pp. 261-275

Publication Information

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pp. 276-


E-ISBN-13: 9780252093661
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036613

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012

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Subject Headings

  • Sex role in motion pictures.
  • Motion pictures and women.
  • Feminism and motion pictures.
  • Film genres.
  • Women in motion pictures.
  • Men in motion pictures.
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