English 7005

Feminist Film Theory

Winter 2008, Monday, 6pm-9pm, 326 State Hall
Steven Shaviro (313-577-5475; 5057 Woodward, room 9309; office hours Thursday 2-4pm and by appointment)


I am starting to teach this class mid-semester, since the original instructor is indisposed. This syllabus will serve as a brief outline. When texts are available online, this will be indicated. Many texts are taken from:
E. Ann Kaplan, ed., Feminism and Film (Oxford University Press, 2000)(designated as FF in what follows).
One other book is required for the class:
Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, eds.,  Reading Sex and the City (I B Tauris, 2004)
We will try both to look at the films screened as test cases, and to extend beyond them theoretically with the help of the readings. Given the circumstances, this course is not as comprehensive a review of feminist film theory as I would have liked; but I hope it will open the way to further investigations.

Assignments: an in-class presentation on one of the readings; a final seminar paper.

February 18: Chytilova's Daisies as test case
Vera Chytilova, Daisies (1966)
Bliss Cua Lim, "Dolls in Fragments: Daisies as Feminist Allegory," Camera Obscura 16:2 (Via Project Muse)
Malgorzata Radkiewicz, "Angry Young Girls"

February 25: Passionate Detachment -- making films otherwise
Chantal Akerman, Je tu il elle (1974)
Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (FF 34-47)
Mandy Merck, "Mulvey's Manifesto," Camera Obscura 22 (3 66) (via Duke University Press)
Mary Ann Doane, "Woman's Stake: Filming the Female Body," (FF 86-99, or October 17, via JSTOR)
E. Ann Kaplan, "Is the Gaze Male?" (FF 119-138)
Teresa de Lauretis, "Aesthetic and Feminist Theory: Rethinking Women's Cinema" (New German Critique 34, via JSTOR)
Anne Friedberg, "Les Flâneurs du Mal(l): Cinema and the Postmodern Condition," PMLA 106:3 (via JSTOR)

March 3: Genres: Comedy (also, general questions of genre)
Nancy Savoca, The 24-Hour Woman (1999)
Linda Williams, "Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess" (Film Quarterly 44:4, via JSTOR)
Mary Ann Doane, "Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator" (FF 418-436)
Annette Kuhn, "Women's Genres" (FF 437-449)
Kathleen Rowe, "Pig Ladies, Big Ladies, and Ladies with Big Mouths" (pdf, library reserve)
Linda Mizejewski, "Queen Latifah, Unruly Women, and the Bodies of Romantic Comedy"
Lesley Speed, "A World Ruled by Hilarity: Gender and Low Comedy in the Films of Amy Heckerling"
Amy Taubin on The 24-Hour Woman

March 17: Genres: Horror
Claire Denis, Trouble Every Day (2001)
Carol Clover, "Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film" (in Horror, The Film Reader, ed. Mark Jancovich, 77-89, available from the library as an e-book)(also available in Representations 20, via JSTOR)(this later becomes a chapter of Men, Women, and Chainsaws)
Tania Modleski, "The Terror of Pleasure: The Contemporary Horror Film and Postmodern Theory" (from Studies in Entertainment, ed. Tania Modleski, 155-166, available from the library as an e-book)
Barbara Creed, "Horror and the Monstrous Feminine" (in Horror, The Film Reader 67-76)(later becomes a chapter of The Monstrous-Feminine)
Linda Williams, "When the Woman Looks" (in Horror, The Film Reader 61-66)
Brigid Cherry, "Refusing to Refuse the Look: Female Viewers of the Horror Film" (in Horror, The Film Reader 169-177)

March 24: Genres: Melodrama
Sarah Polley, Away From Her (2007)
[also, if possible, watch King Vidor's Stella Dallas on your own]
Pam Cook, "Melodrama and the Woman's Picture" (pdf)
E. Ann Kaplan, "The Case of the Missing Mother: Maternal Issues in Vidor's Stella Dallas (FF 466-478)
Linda Williams, "Something Else Besides A Mother: Stella Dallas and the Maternal Melodrama" (FF 479-504, or Cinema Journal 24:1, via JSTOR)
Mary Ann Doane, "The Woman's Picture" (pdf)
Tania Modleski, "Time and Desire in the Woman's Picture" (pdf)

March 31: Gender and Race
Cheryl Dunye, Watermelon Woman (1996)
[also, if possible, watch Imitation of Life (preferably Douglas Sirk's 1959 version, but also John Stahl's 1934 version) on your own]
Jane Gaines, "White Privilege and Looking Relations" (FF 336-355)
Claire Pajaczkowska and Lola Young, "Racism, Representation, Psychoanalysis" (FF 356-374)
Laura L. Sullivan, "The Watermelon Woman and Black Lesbian Possibility" (Callaloo 23:1, 448-460, 2000, via JSTOR)
Marina Heung, "What's the Matter With Sarah Jane?: Daughters and Mothers in Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life" (Cinema Journal, Vol. 26, No. 3, Spring, 1987, pp. 21-43, via JSTOR).

April 7: Experimental Film Practice
Sadie Benning, short films (1990s)
Todd Haynes, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987)
Sadie Benning, "Flat is Beautiful," PAJ 24:2 (via JSTOR)
Rick Curnette, "Child's Play: The Pixelvision Videos of Sadie Benning"
Melissa Rigney, "Sadie Benning"
Gary Morris, "Behind the Mask: Sadie Benning's Pixel Pleasures"
Mary Desjardins, "The Incredible Shrinking Star: Todd Haynes and the Case History of Karen Carpenter" (Camera Obscura 57, 19:3, 22-55) (via Project Muse)
Lucas Hilderbrand, "Grainy Days and Mondays: Superstar and Bootleg Aesthetics" (Camera Obscura 57, 19:3, 56-91) (via Project Muse)

April 14: Gender on Television
Sex and the City (1998-2004)
Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, eds.,  Reading Sex and the City

April 21: Gender and New Media
Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto"
Sadie Plant, Zeroes and Ones (selection; pdf)
"100 Antitheses of Cyberfeminism"
Faith Wilding, "Where is Feminism in Cyberfeminism?"
Helen W. Kennedy, "Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo?" (Game Studies 2:2, December 2002)
Tanya Krzywinksa, "Demon Girl Power: Regimes of Form and Force in Primal and Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
Mary Flanagan, "Hyperbodies, Hyperknowledge: Women in Games, Women in Cyberpunk, and Strategies of Resistance"

War and Media symposium, Tuesday, March 18, 1 pm-4 pm
Talk by Michael Hardt, Citizenship conference, Friday, March 28,, 10:30 am
Jon Lewis, Turner Memorial Lecture, Thursday, April 10, 3 pm