Women, Film, and Feminism: A Course Syllabus

By Metz, Walter | Women's Studies Quarterly, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Women, Film, and Feminism: A Course Syllabus


Metz, Walter, Women's Studies Quarterly


Course Description

This course introduces the issues that feminist theories pose for the analysis of films and culture. These issues are usually framed in reference to women's access to and roles in the production of media and women's representation within these media. Correspondingly, the course offers two major sections of investigation. First, we will explore the historical development of women's roles in the cinema as creative artists. Second, we will explore the various ways in which women's roles in the film industry intersect with the wider identity political issues of race, class, sexuality, and national identity. The course will conclude with a case study applying the feminist theories encountered to a recent popular film adaptation, Amy Heckerling's Clueless (1995). This "hands-on" conclusion will provide the impetus for students to finish their own term papers applying feminist theory to popular culture. The course will be rigorous, offering students the opportunity to engage with a vast array of important feminist theory, including the work of Kaja Silverman, Julia Kristeva, and Luce Irigaray.

Required Readings

Austen, Jane. Emma. New York: Bantam, 1981.

Waller, Robert James. The Bridges of Madison County. New York: Warner, 1997.

Weedon, Chris. Feminism, Theory, and the Politics of Difference. London: Blackwell, 1999.

In addition, students will read the following chapters and articles from recent scholarly books and journals:

Andrew, Dudley. "Adaptation." Concepts in Film Theory. New York: Oxford UP, 1985.

Awkward, Michael. "A Black Man's Place(s) in Black Feminist Criticism." Who Can Speak? Authority and Critical Identity. Ed. Judith Roof and Robyn Wiegman. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1995. 71-91.

Butler, Judith. "Freud and the Melancholia of Gender." Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. 57-65.

Cixous, Helene. "The Laugh of the Medusa." New French Feminism. Ed. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron. New York: Schocken, 1981. 245-64.

Cook, Pam. "Approaching the Work of Dorothy Arzner." Rpt. Feminism and Film Theory. Ed. Constance Penley. New York: Routledge, 1988. 46-56.

Eckert, Charles. "Anatomy of a Proletarian Film." Movies and Methods. Vol. 2. Ed. Bill Nichols. Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1985.

Flitterman-Lewis, Sandy. "From Fantasy to Structure of the Fantasm." To Desire Differently: Feminism and the French Cinema. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1990. 98-112.

Freud, Sigmund. "Mourning and Melancholia." (1917). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 14. Ed. and trans. James Strachey. London: Hogarth P, 1957. 239-58.

Gibson-Hudson, Gloria. "Aspects of Black Feminist Cultural Ideology in Films by Black Women Independent Artists." Rpt. in Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism. Ed. Diane Carson, Linda Dittmar, and Janice R. Welsch. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1994. 365-79.

Heath, Stephen. "Male Feminism." Men in Feminism. Ed. Alice Jardine and Paul Smith. New York: Methuen, 1987.

Houston, Beverle. "Missing in Action: Notes on Dorothy Arzner." (1984). Rpt. Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism. Ed. Diane Carson, Linda Dittmar, and Janice IL Welsch. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1994. 271-79.

Irigaray, Luce. "A Very Black Sexuality?" (1974). Speculum of the Other Woman. Trans. Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1985. 66-73.

. "This Sex Which Is Not One." New French Feminisms. Eds. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron. New York: Schocken, 1981. 99-106.

Johnston, Claire. "Dorothy Arzner: Critical Strategies." (1975). Rpt. in Feminism and Film Theory. Ed. Constance Penley. New York: Routledge, 1988. 36-45.

Kaplan, E. Ann. "The Avant-garde Theory Film." Women and Film: Both Sides of the Camera. New York: Methuen, 1983. …

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