Academic journal article Magistra

Veiled Desires. Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film

Academic journal article Magistra

Veiled Desires. Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film

Article excerpt

Veiled Desires. Intimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film by Maureen Sabine. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013. 352 pp., $30.00. ISBN 978-0-8232-5166-7.

Nuns fascinate, capturing our imaginations. Nuns also bear the burden of popular stereotypes perpetuated by those who either (a) don't actually know any nuns (sisters), or (b) expect nuns/sisters to behave in prescribed manners that suit a particular theological/political position. Of course all humans are far more complex and interesting than any of our beloved stereotypes. Recently scholars have come to recognize that women religious made significant contributions to many professions, and that the history of women religious is a small but important strand of American history.

Sabine brings her research interests in sexuality, religion/theology, and gender representation to a nuanced, critical, yet sympathetic, exploration of the portrayal of nuns in movies but, equally importantly, to the actresses and the impact the roles had upon them. She acknowledges that the characters, as women and as professional women/nuns, were far more complex than many people allowed.

Sabine is carefully contextual in her treatment of the material in her six chapters. In "Selfless Desires," she explores Casablanca (1942), The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958). In "Sexual Desires," she explores Black Narcissus (1947), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), and Sea Wife (1957). …

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