Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema

Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema

Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema

Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema

Synopsis

In Precocious Charms, Gaylyn Studlar examines how Hollywood presented female stars as young girls or girls on the verge of becoming women. Child stars are part of this study but so too are adult actresses who created motion picture masquerades of youthfulness. Studlar details how Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Jones, and Audrey Hepburn performed girlhood in their films. She charts the multifaceted processes that linked their juvenated star personas to a wide variety of cultural influences, ranging from Victorian sentimental art to New Look fashion, from nineteenth-century children's literature to post-World War II sexology, and from grand opera to 1930s radio comedy. By moving beyond the general category of "woman," Precocious Charms leads to a new understanding of the complex pleasures Hollywood created for its audience during the half century when film stars were a major influence on America's cultural imagination.

Excerpt

This book is about stardom and femininity and how six female stars figured in the inscription of girls and girlhood by Hollywood between the years 1914 and 1967. in this discussion I stress the importance of “juvenation” in the performances of girlhood by Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Jones, and Audrey Hepburn.

What is juvenation? Referencing contemporary news media, John Hartley defines juvenation as “the creative practice of communicating with a readership via the medium of youthfulness.” He points to the ambivalent ways in which late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century popular media produce images of the young as a category of appeal defined by age but also inevitably by gender. Hartley explains how the overrepresentation of signs of youthfulness in journalism and electronic public media registers a preoccupation with boundaries of age and with the young, especially young girls. the latter, he says, are “up to their ankles, if not their necks, in public signification, becoming objects of public policy, public debate, the public gaze.” Hartley argues that the ubiquitous presence of this juvenating process can be located in various media-dominated spheres of culture that become juvenated discursively to facilitate enjoyment by viewers or readers, whether they are defined as adult or child. the reception of the juvenated leads to ambivalent or contradictory effects, says Hartley, because at the same time that adultgenerated contemporary culture juvenates both subjects and consum-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.