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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


FSS Feminisms

FSS Feminisms: Feminisms and Moving Images

Course Convenor: Dr Laura McMahon (, Centre for Film and Screen and Section of French

The practices and theories of the moving image have been profoundly shaped by feminism. While feminist praxis and politics have contributed to vital, often experimental, reimaginings of subjectivity and the body onscreen, feminist thought has offered foundational frameworks for theorising spectatorship, narrative, genre, voice, affect and the senses in cinema, as well as recent crucial accounts of data and the digital. This module explores the ways in which feminisms — understood plurally and intersectionally, in interaction with issues of race, class, queer and trans representation, among various other concerns — continue to shape the practices and theories of the moving image. International in scope, the module focuses predominantly on work by female-identifying filmmakers/artists in the contemporary, while also drawing connections to histories and genealogies of feminist art, film and thought. The filmmakers/artists to be discussed all position themselves differently in relation to feminism, ranging from avowed commitment to ambiguous or conflicted relations. But in each case we ask how feminist thought and related frameworks might enrich our understanding of their works, while also asking how these artistic practices prompt us to reflect on feminisms anew. Addressing practices across different media (film, video, installation etc.), the module will be team-taught by colleagues from various Faculties (MMLL, English, History of Art).

This module is borrowable by ELAC, History of Art and English MPhil students.


Preliminary Reading

‘An Archive for the Future’, Camera Obscura, 21:3 (63) (2006)

Caroline Bassett, Sarah Kember and Kate O’Riordan, Furious: Technological Feminism and        Digital Futures (London: Pluto Press, 2020)

Robin Blaetz (ed), Women’s Experimental Cinema: Critical Frameworks (Durham: Duke UP,  2007)

Vicki Callahan, Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2010)

Judith Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York: NYU Press, 2005)

bell hooks, ‘The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators’, in Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston: South End Press, 1992), pp. 115-152

Claire Johnston, ‘Women’s Cinema as Counter-Cinema’ [1973], in Sue Thornham (ed), Feminist Film Theory: A Reader (New York: NYU Press, 1999), pp. 31-40

Kara Keeling, The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Durham: Duke UP, 2007)

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

Laura Mulvey, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Screen, 16:3 (1975), 6-18

— see also ‘Visual Pleasure at 40’ dossier, ed. John David Rhodes, Screen, 56:4 (2015)

Laura Mulvey and Anna Backman Rogers (eds), Feminisms: Diversity, Difference, and Multiplicity in Contemporary Film Cultures (Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2015)

Anat Pick, ‘New Queer Cinema and Lesbian Films’, in Michele Aaron (ed), New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2004), pp. 103-118

Gayle Salamon, Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality (New York: Columbia UP, 2010)

Kaja Silverman, The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1988)

Françoise Vergès, A Decolonial Feminism, trans. Ashley J. Bohrer (London: Pluto Press, 2021)

Patricia White, Women’s Cinema, World Cinema: Projecting Contemporary Feminisms (Durham: Duke UP, 2015)

Emma Wilson, The Reclining Muse: Agnès Varda, Catherine Breillat and Nan Goldin (Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2019)




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