... Women have played a significant role both in front of and behind the camera since movies first emerged as a significant cultural form in the early 20th century. But their roles have not been acknowledged to the extent that their male counterparts have. This seminar will examine why. Readings will include some of the major essays in feminist film theory and also comic theory. Again, for reasons to be examined, we will explore why comedy, until fairly recently, has been notably neglected from a feminist perspective. Tragedy is traditionally more "respectable" than comedy, but essentially both the tragic and comic responses to life come from the same source: our consciousness of the gap between existence as it is and existence as it ought to be. It has been argued that all genres can be conceived in terms of dialectic between cultural and counter-cultural drives where, in the end, the cultural drives, produced by a male dominated society, must triumph. But between the inevitable "fade in" and "fade out," comedy is free to work its complex and often subversive purpose, revealing and commenting on the preoccupations, prejudices, and dreams of the society that produces it.
[IWR, Winter 2017]
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