[csaa-forum] Catherine Driscoll "The Modern Doll" and Lauren Bliss "The Witchcraft of Cinema"

Timothy Laurie timothy.laurie at unimelb.edu.au
Wed Sep 24 09:57:25 ACST 2014

Screen & Cultural Studies Seminar

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

Time: 12pm-1.30pm, Thursday September 25, free
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.

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.

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