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This course investigates the changing place of women in film: as a glamorised spectacle and cultural commodity, as spectators and consumers, and also as creators and theorists.
This course investigates the changing place of women in film: as glamorized spectacle and cultural commodity, as spectators and consumers, but also as creators and theorists. We will explore the development of feminist filmmaking and film theory within an international context, focusing specifically on the interrelation between American films and filmmakers and New Zealand and French national cinemas. We will address topics that have historically engaged women filmmakers, theorists, and scholars. These include: images of women on the screen; the notion of countercinema; the use of psychoanalytic theories; issues of female spectatorship; women's place in film genres, and issues related to race, class, and sexual preference as they intersect with feminism. While we focus primarily on the evolution of French feminist filmmaking and continental film theory, please note that the entirety of the course work is in English. We will begin with an introduction to the principles of feminist film analysis. Through close interrogation of the workings of classical Hollywood cinema, we will locate ways that hegemonic culture has defined gender roles, sexual identities, and domesticity in the twentieth century. Our attention to film genres will include a reappraisal of the contributions of Dorothy Arzner, a woman director who was able to constitute a body of work during Hollywood’s classical era. To expand upon this discussion of a feminist countercinema, we will analyze constructions of femininity in national cinemas, addressing the auteurist works of Catherine Breillat, Agnès Varda, and Jane Campion. The impact of women writers, such as Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva, on feminist film theory and filmmaking will also be addressed. Class discussion will focus on issues of memory and identification, agency and the female voice, friendship between women, auto-portraiture, and the coming-of-age girl.
Advanced ability to interpret and critically analyse filmsAbility to evaluate and critique selected concepts and methods of the discipline Advanced ability to analyse the relationship between films and their social, cultural and historical contextsIndependence and confidence in formulating ideas and presenting a critical position, both in oral and written communicationAdvanced ability to produce a detailed, coherent and persuasive argument in the form of an academic essay
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:
Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award
Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.
Employable, innovative and enterprising
Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.
Biculturally competent and confident
Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.
Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.
Subject to approval of the Head of Department.
FREN444, GEND413, TAFS406, CINE401
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.
• Course Reader• Ann Kaplan. Feminism and Film. 2000. (The text is available for purchase through UBS Bookshop and on three-day loan at the Central Library.) Additional required readings will be made available to you.(Image: "Now, Voyager (1942)" by Laura Loveday, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.)
Film ListWeek One: Introduction to Feminist Film Theory Week Two: The Clinical Gaze Screening: Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, US 1942)Week Three: When Women Direct: Showgirls and Dorothy ArznerScreening: Dance, Girl, Dance (Dorothy Arzner, US 1940)Week Four: Women and Performance: Returning the GazeScreening: Cléo from 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, FR 1961)Week Five: Masochism and the GazeScreening: Lola Montès (Max Ophuls, FR 1955)Week Six: The Female Voice: HysteriaScreening: The Piano (Jane Campion, NZ 1992) Week Seven: Mothers and LossScreening: Waru (Smith, Gardiner, Cohen, Kaa, Maihi, Wolfe, Simich-Pene, Whetu Jones, NZ 2017) Vai (Arahanga, Aumua, Freshwater, Fuemana, George, Guttenbeil, McCartney, N. Whippy, S. Whippy, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue and Aotearoa (New Zealand), 2019)Week Eight: Distanciation: The Reworking of the Hollywood Melodrama Screening: A Woman Under the Influence (Cassavetes, US 1974)Week Nine: Abjection and Female Friendship Screening: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (Mungiu, ROM 2007)Week Ten: Abjection and the Girl Screening: À Ma Soeur (Fat Girl, Catherine Breillat, FR 2001)Week Eleven: A Fairy Tale Reinvented Screening: Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, AUST 2011)Week Twelve: The Coming-of Age Girl in the BanlieueScreening: Bande de filles (Girlhood, Céline Sciamma, FR 2014)
Domestic fee $1,990.00
International Postgraduate fees
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
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