Researching the Influence of Feminist Film Theory on 21st Century Films and TV Series

Université Toulouse 2 Jean-Jaurès

November 19th, 2021

The Jeudis du genre research group (CAS 1, EA 803) is calling for papers on the influence of feminist film theories and intersectional feminist theories on feminist films and TV series produced in the English-speaking world of the 21st century. The objective of the symposium is to acknowledge how the works of feminist scholars and feminist film scholars have influenced filmmakers and screenwriters (Radner and Stringer 2011; Roche 2014 and 2018; Maury and Roche 2020), and pursue inquiry of cross-fertilization between films and series, and feminist (film) theory.

One task will be to delineate the contours of a feminist cinema and define « feminist cinema ». This could involve assessing the ways in which productions fall within the scope of the third and fourth waves of feminism, and/or respond to the postfeminist/neo-feminist/new feminist contexts. Is feminist cinema films and TV series whose subject is women? Films and series made by women? Or can it all boil down to films and series which adopt a political stand in keeping with Amelia Jones’s definition of feminism as « a political or ethical engagement with questions of culture » (Callahan, 4)?

Black, Latinx and queer scholars and filmmakers have called into question the stereotyped representation and/or the absence of black women, Latinas and lesbians in mainstream cinema (Beltrán, Bobo, hooks, Mayer, Reid) while pointing out the existence of films that challenge such commodified portrayals. The concepts of « womanist film » (Reid), Latinidad Feminista (Baez), and « auteure poetics and apparitionality » (Mayer) open perspectives to further the conversation on feminist cinema and on the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

Another line of inquiry will consist in assessing the ongoing influence of feminist film theory on today’s feminist productions, forty-five years after Claire Johnston and Laura Mulvey first identified the need to take up struggle with women’s image in film and advocated a radical cinema to counter the patriarchal ideology of mainstream cinema. In what ways are there traces of Christine Gledhill (1984)’s questioning this necessity for feminist cinema to be a counter-cinema? What of Teresa de Lauretis’s « guerrilla cinema » (1990)?

We would also like to look into the reception of feminist cinema at a time of growing awareness about the absence of women filmmakers and screenwriters from mainstream productions, the Hollywood industry being one of the most striking examples of this phenomenon. The socio-historical factors that surround and possibly influence the reception of films and series as feminist seem key to understanding today’s feminist cinema. The example of the reassessment of Jennifer’s Body in the context of the #MeToo, Time’s Up movements shows the importance of « contextualizing the space of reception » (Staiger, in Radner and Stringer, 14). Black feminist writers and film specialists (bell hooks, Jacqueline Bobo, Mark Reid) have developed theories on the filmic gaze that rely on a critical reception of films, thereby pointing at the importance of an intersectional gaze for black feminist filmmaking.

We welcome all theoretical papers and case studies which fall into one or more of the three lines of inquiry such as (and this is not limitative):

–                                 papers attempting to identify feminist cinema and TV series, and to chart the presence of feminist ideas in the 21st century;

–                                 papers on intersectionality in films and TV series, whether in the filmmaking process or in reception;

–                                 papers on the influence of seminal essays such as Laura Mulvey (1975), Kaja Silverman (1984), bell hooks (1992), and other works of feminist film scholarship on feminist filmmakers of the 21st century, in mainstream or in independent cinema and in TV series;

–                                 papers on feminist filmmakers politicizing mainstream genres;

–                                 papers on genre and feminism;

–                                 etc.

We hope this symposium will ultimately contribute to paving the way to a heightened visibility of feminist films and the research thereof, in the wake of Ruby Rich’s call to name feminist practices in order to counter the « lack of an adequate language [which] has contributed to the invisibility of key aspects of our film culture – an invisibility advantageous to the prevailing film traditions » (67).

Proposals must include a 300-500-word abstract, a short bibliography and a bio, and should be sent to the three organizers by March 1st, 2021. ; ;

Applicants will receive a response regarding their submission by April 1st, 2021.

Confirmed guest speaker: Janet Staiger, University of Texas, Austin.

Scientific Committee:

Jean-François Baillon, Université Bordeaux Montaigne; Zachary Baqué, Université Toulouse 2 Jean-Jaurès; Corinne Bigot UT2J; Anne Crémieux, Université Paris 8; Gwénaëlle le Gras, Université Bordeaux Montaigne; Sarah Hatchuel, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3; Emeline Jouve, Université François Champollion; Marianne Kac-Vergne, Université de Picardie; Delphine Letort, Le Mans Université; Laurent Mellet, Université Toulouse 2 Jean-Jaurès; Monica Michlin, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3; Thomas Pillard, Université Paris 3; Mark A. Reid, University of Florida, Gainsville; David Roche, Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3; Jules Sandeau, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier 3; Michèle Soriano, Université Toulouse 2 Jean-Jaurès; Shannon Wells-Lassagne, Université de Bourgogne.

Selective bibliography

Aparicio, Frances R. « Jennifer as Selena: Rethinking Latinidad in Media and Popular Culture », Latino Studies, 2003, p. 90-105.

Baez, Jillian M. « Towards a Latinidad Feminista: The Multiplicities of Latinidad and Feminism in Contemporary Cinema », Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture, December 2007, p. 109-128.

Beltrán, Mary, « The Hollywood Latina Body as Site of Social Struggle: Media Contructions of Stardom and Jennifer Lopez’s « Cross-over Butt », Quarterly Review of Film and Video, October 2010, p. 71-86.

Bobo, Jacqueline. « Black women’s responses to The Color Purple« , Jump Cut 33, February 1988, 43-51.

Brey, Iris. Le regard féminin : une révolution à l’écran, Editions de l’Olivier, 2020.

Callahan, Vicki. « Introduction: Reclaiming the Archive: Archeological Exploration toward a Feminism 3.0 », Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History ed. Vicki Callahan, Wayne State University Press, 2010, 1-8.

Cepeda, María Elena, « Beyond « Filling in the gap »: the state and status of Latina/o Feminist Media Studies », Feminist Media Studies, July 2015, p. 344-360.

Clover, Carol. J. Men, Women and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, Princeton UP, 1992.

Cowie, Elizabeth. « Film Noir and Women », Shades of Noir: a Reader. Ed. Joan Copjec, Verso, 1993, 121-65.

Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Routledge, 1993.

De Lauretis, Teresa. Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction, Indiana University Press, 1987.

—. « Guerrilla in the Midst: Women’s Cinema in the 1980s » Screen 31, 1990, 6-25.

Doane, Mary Ann. Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis, Routledge, 1991.

Garrett, Roberta. Postmodern Chick Flicks: The Return of the Woman’s Film, Palgrave MacMillan, 2007.

Gledhill, Christine. « Developments in Feminist Film Criticism », Re-vision. Essays in Feminist Film Criticism. Eds. Mary Ann Doane, Patricia Mellencamp and Linda Williams, AFI, 1984, 18-45. 

hooks, bell. Reel to Real: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies, Routledge, 1996.

—. « The Oppositional gaze: Black Female Spectators », Black Looks: Race and Representation, Turnaround, 1992, 115-131. 

Johnston, Claire. « Women’s Cinema as Counter Cinema ». Notes on Women’s Cinema, Society for Education in Film and Television. 1973.  

Kuhn, Annette. Women’s Pictures: Feminism and Cinema, Verso, 1993.

Lane, Christina. « From The Loveless to Point Break: Kathryn Bigelowʼs Trajectory in Action ». CinemaJournal. Vol. 37, No. 4, Summer 1998, 59-81.

Letort, Delphine & Shannon Wells-Lassagne. « Reviewing Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, HBO, 2011) in the Age of Postfeminism », Journal of Popular Film and Television, 47:3, 2019, 171-178.

Maury, Cristelle and David Roche. « Introduction », Women Who Kill: Gender and Sexuality in Film and Series of the Post-Feminist Era, Bloomsbury, 2020, 1-30.

Mayer, Sophie. Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema, I.B. Tauris, 2019.

—. « Uncommon Sensuality: New Queer Feminist Film/Theory », Feminisms: Diversity, Difference and Multiplicity in Contemporary Film Cultures, Mulvey, Laura and Anna Backman Rogers eds., Amsterdam University Press, 2016, 86-96.

Mulvey, Laura. « Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema », Screen 16.3, 1975.

Mulvey, Laura and Anna Backman Rogers eds. Feminisms: Diversity, Difference and Multiplicity in Contemporary Film Cultures, Amsterdam University Press, 2016. Mulvey, Laura. « Afterword: Some Reflections on the Engagement of Feminism with Film from the 1970s to the Present Day », The Moving Image Review & Art Journal, Volume 7, Number 1, 1 April 2018, 82-90.

Radner, Hilary and Rebecca Stringer. « Introduction: ‘Re-Vision’? Feminist Film Criticism in the Twenty-first Century », Feminism at the Movies: Understanding Gender in Contemporary Cinema, Hilary Radner and Rebecca Stringer eds. Routledge 2011, 1-9.

Reid, Mark. « A Dialogic Model of Representing Africa: Womanist Film » 25:2, Black Film Issue, Summer, 1991, 375-388.

Rich, Ruby. « In the Name of Feminist Film Criticism », 1978, Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement Duke University Press, 1998, 62-84.

Roche, David. Quentin Tarantino: Poetics and Politics of Cinematic Metafiction, University Press of Mississippi, 2018.

—. Making and Remaking Horror in the 1970s and 2000s: Why Don’t They Do It Like They Used To, University Press of Mississippi, 2014.

Silverman, Kaja. « Disembodying the Female Voice », Re-vision. Essays in Feminist Film Criticism. Eds. Mary Ann Doane, Patricia Mellencamp and Linda Williams, AFI, 1984, 131-149.

Staiger, Janet. « Film Noir as Male Melodrama: the Politics of Film Genre Labeling », The Shifting Definitions of Genre: Essays on Labeling Films, Television Shows and Media,  Lincoln Geraghty and Mark Jancovich eds., McFarland & Company Inc., 2008, 71-91.

—. « ‘The First Bond Who Bleeds, Literally and Metaphorically’: Gendered Spectatorship for ‘Pretty Boy’ Action Movies », Feminism at the Movies: Understanding Gender in Contemporary Cinema, Hilary Radner and Rebecca Stringer eds. Routledge 2011, 13-24.

Sutherland, Jean-Anne & Kathryn M. Feltey. « Here’s Looking at Her: an Intersectional Analysis of Women, Power and Feminism in Film », Journal of Gender Studies 26:6, 2017, 618-631.

Tasker, Yvonne. Spectacular Bodies: Gender, Genre, and the Action Cinema, Routledge 1993.

Williams, Linda. « Melodrama Revisited » Refiguring American Film Genres: History and Theory, Nick Browne ed., U of California Press, 1998, 42-88.

Cristelle MauryMaitresse de conférences anglais et cinéma d’Amérique du NordDépartement des Etudes du Monde Anglophone UFR LLCE
Laboratoire CAS EA 801
Co-responsable du séminaire les Jeudis du genre
Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès
5 allées Antonio Machado
31058 TOULOUSE Cedex 9