[csaa-forum] Catherine Driscoll and Lauren Bliss (Screen & Cultural Studies Seminar at the University of Melbourne)

Timothy Laurie timothy.laurie at unimelb.edu.au
Thu Sep 18 12:07:38 CST 2014

Screen & Cultural Studies Seminar Series

Theme: “Gender”

Associate Professor Catherine Driscoll (University of Sydney)
Lauren Bliss (University of Melbourne)

Time: 12pm-1.30pm, Thursday September 25
Venue: 4th Floor Linkway, John Medley Building, University of Melbourne

The Modern Doll: Gender and Object Experience
Catherine Driscoll

This paper considers the ways that dolls became gendered in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, and the implications of this “girling” of the modern doll for feminist cultural studies. It begins by exploring the significance of “the doll” for modernist figures of gendered embodiment. The “girled” modern doll represents the entanglement of subject and object experience widely held to characterise modern subjectivity as very precisely gendered and as centrally an experience of technology. If this technology is both anthropological and instrumental (Heidegger), and is experienced as both familiar and strange (Freud, Benjamin), and thus lines up neatly with much contemporary theoretical emphasis on tools and things and objects in all these senses the modern doll foregrounds the importance of gender for understanding this experience (Beauvoir) and of technology for understanding gender. Finally, this paper offers some reflections on the girled doll’s significance as a nexus of style, gender, and technologised wonder.

Catherine Driscoll is Associate Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She is the author of numerous essays on cultural theory, girls and girl culture, modernity and modernism, popular culture and popular genres, and rural studies.  Catherine's books include: Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory (Columbia UP, 2002); Modernist Cultural Studies (UP Florida, 2010); Teen Film: A Critical Introduction (Berg, 2011); and The Australian Country Girl: History, Image, Experience (Ashgate, 2014). She is also co-editor, with Meaghan Morris, of Gender, Media and Modernity in the Asia-Pacific (Routledge, 2014) and, with Megan Watkins and Greg Noble, of Cultural Pedagogies and Human Conduct (Routledge, 2015).

The Witchcraft of Cinema
Lauren Bliss
Correlating cinema to witchcraft, this paper will problematise Laura Mulvey’s thesis of the male gaze. It argues for a feminine gaze where cinema self-conceives through its imitative image. Despite its fantastic conceit, such imitative power forms the basis for the very real persecution of witches during the European witch-hunts in the early-modern era. Charges of witchcraft were typically related to a diabolical reproduction of the natural body and included possession of the penis, the dismemberment and devouring of infants and the unborn, the procuring of abortions and miscarriages, and the creation of demonic children. Socio-historical investigations of the witch-hunts have largely ignored the imagistic power of witchcraft and its relation to the archaic belief in the maternal imaginary to ‘naturally’ shape or mutate the foetus, or even to conceive without a father. In figuring an artistic and technological correlation of witchcraft to cinema by way of the maternal imaginary, this paper will consider the potential for a feminine gaze.

Lauren Bliss is a writer and PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. Her thesis examines figurations of pregnancy in cinema. Her work has been featured in Un magazine, Discipline, Arena, and Screening the Past. She is a staff writer for the online magazine Desistfilm.

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