ENGL 371(F) Feminist Theory and the Representation of Women in Film (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 371)

Woman's position as the "object of the gaze" is the focus of much recent critical film theory. Central to these theoretical writings is a psychoanalytically-based (Lacanian) perspective that endows men with access to subjectivity as viewers and agency within narrative, and assigns woman a role as fantasized object within a male economy of desire. This perspective, which we find in the work of Laura Mulvey, Jacqueline Rose, Stephen Heath, and Mary Ann Doane, is complemented by a more socio-ideological approach in the work of E. Ann Kaplan, Tania Modleski, and Teresa de Lauretis. We will attempt first to understand the theoretical texts in which the feminine figures as a central term for aesthetic discourse and ideological controversy. Second, we will analyze films, applying and testing these critical perspectives. Questions concerning the problematic subjectivity of the female spectator will be primary, and we will be especially concerned with the ways in which various kinds of works-from those considered to be highly conventionalized or "classical" to those deemed "avant-garde" or subversive in the way they treat convention-address themselves to a male versus a female spectator. Finally, we will evaluate the interpretive possibilities afforded by psychoanalytic and socio-ideological methods both separately and together. In addition to reading selections from film theorists and critics, we will look at such films as Aliens, Now, Voyager, Thelma and Louise, Vertigo, Chicago, Moulin Rouge, and Lost in Translation. Format: discussion/seminar. Requirements: active participation in class discussions, one 4- to 5-page paper, one 6- to 8-page paper, three short journal-style assignments, and a take-home final exam. Prerequisites: a 100-level English course, except 150. Enrollment limit:25 (expected: 25). (Post-1900 or Criticism)