Female Screens: Representation, Agency and Authorship (EAF3106)

StaffProfessor Helen Hanson - Convenor
Dr Lisa Smithstead - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • To enable you to situate case study film and print texts and author case studies within their historical and industrial contexts
  • To encourage you to consider the intersection of issues of gender and power in the historical and contemporary screen industries, and to apply this understanding to the analysis of textual examples
  • To motivate you to analyse and evaluate the aesthetic strategies of women’s filmmaking and television production and their potential resistances to and compliance with norms and stereotypes surrounding women on screen
  • To stimulate you to frame their readings of women’s texts within a range of theoretical and contextual frameworks, for example: feminist film theory, feminist film and TV historiography; race theory; queer theory; industrial history; genre theory; adaptation studies; authorship

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate advanced understanding of key works by women filmmakers and showrunners of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in Britain and America
  • 2. Enter into scholarly debates in film, TV and cultural theory and relate these debates to examples of women’s filmmaking and women on screen in film and TV media in Britain and America
  • 3. Compare and contrast primary texts, making connections between different texts across the module and women’s film and television history
  • 4. Explore and critique issues of representation as they relate specifically to gender and cinema/TV, from the silent era to the contemporary screen industries in Britain and America

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse women’s filmmaking in British and American cinema and TV texts with women on screen and relate this material to relevant cultural contexts and industrial contexts
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 7. Demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to film, TV and archival texts and artefacts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 9. Demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 10. Through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 11. Through research and writing, demonstrate an advanced capacity to make critical use of secondary material, to question assumptions, and to reflect on their own learning process

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Finding early female pioneers
  • Collaboration and invisible labour in the silent and early sound era
  • Female film criticism between the wars
  • Ageing stars on screen in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Female filmmakers and radical experiments in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Queer creators/queer screens in the 1990s
  • (Re)writing gendered histories in the 2000/2010s
  • Showrunners & creative agency in the Netflix era
  • Contemporary super heroines on the big and small screen
  • Speaking across generations
  • What next after Weinstein? Female screen futures

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching222 hour weekly seminar
Scheduled learning and teaching111 hour weekly lecture
Guided independent study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study164Reading, research and essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Case study portfolio302000 words1-7, 9-11Written feedback plus tutorial follow-up
Essay704000 words1-7, 9-11Written feedback plus tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Case study portfolioCase study portfolio1-7, 9-11Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-7, 9-11Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative critical texts:

  • Cobb, Shelley. Adaptation, Authorship and Contemporary Women Filmmakers, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014.
  • Dash, Julie. Daughters of the Dust: The Making of an African American Women’s Film. New York: The New Press, 1992.
  • Gever, Martha, John Greyson and Pratibha Parmar, eds. Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video. New York: Routledge, 1993.
  • hooks, bell. Reel to Real: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies. New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • Kuhn, Annette. Women’s Pictures: Feminism and Cinema. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982.
  • Mask, Mia (ed). Contemporary Black American Cinema: Race, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies, Routledge, 2012.
  • McCabe, Janet. Feminist Film Studies: Writing the Woman into Cinema, Wallflower, 2004.
  • Mulvey, Laura and Anna Backman Rogers, eds. Feminisms: Diversity, Difference, and Multiplicity in Contemporary Film Cultures. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015
  • Rich, B. Ruby. New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2013.
  • Richardson, Niall. Ageing Femininity on Screen: The Older Woman in Contemporary Cinema, IB Tauris, 2018.
  • Stamp, Shelley. Lois Weber in Early Hollywood, University of California Press, 2015.
  • Stead, Lisa. Off to the Pictures: Women’s Writing, Cinemagoing and Movie Culture in Interwar Britain. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2016.
  • Thornham, Helen and Elke Weissman, eds. Renewing Feminisms: Radical Narratives, Fantasies and Futures in Media Studies. London: IB Tauris, 2013.
  • Villarejo, Amy. Lesbian Rule: Cultural Criticism and the Politics of Desire. Durham NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

 Indicative film/TV texts:

  • Suspense (Lois Weber, US, 1913)
  • Making an American Citizen (Alice Guy-Blache, US, 1912)
  • Mable’s Strange Predicament (Mabel Normand, US, 1914)
  • Examples of Shondaland shows (2005 -)
  • Crazy Ex Girlfriend (Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, US, 2015-)
  • Suffragette (Sara Gavron, UK, 2015)
  • Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, US, 2017)
  • Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Pierce, US, 1999)
  • Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, US, 1991)
  • Lemonade (Beyoncé Knowles et al., US, 2016)
  • Wanda (Barbara Loden, US, 1970)
  • Smithereens (Susan Seidelman, US, 1982)

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Women, cinema, television, authorship, genre, gender, adaptation, representation, race, age, identity, feminism, feminist film theory, feminist film historiography