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Framed

Lesbians, Feminists, and Media Culture

2000
Author:

Judith Mayne

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A prominent critic assesses the impact feminism has had on popular culture.

In Framed a respected critic whose reach extends from film, literature, and feminism to the culture at large offers a sustained exploration of feminist approaches to film and mass culture. The author focuses on the contradictory impulses that characterize feminism, from examinations of how the classical Hollywood cinema has objectified the female body, to inquiries into the surprising sexual politics that often characterize "alternative" films.

“First-rate scholar Judith Mayne is that rare prolific author who never
lets us down. This new collection makes for a provocative and lively, but always well grounded, read.” B. Ruby Rich, author of Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the
Feminist Film Movement

Framed is a sophisticated examination of various mass-mediated texts, which focus less on developing theory and more on using theory to analyze particular texts. With a focus on particular representations of feminists and lesbians, Mayne engages each site with theoretical rigor. The book displays careful and sophisticated critical work. The level of theoretical depth in her readings is remarkable, as is her blending of various elements that should be considered in particular readings, such as genre, camera angles, and narrative recuperation strategies. The careful analyses are remarkable and thus should not be missed by those interested in feminist media criticism.

NWSA Journal

Film/Women’s Studies

A prominent critic assesses the impact feminism has had on popular culture.

In Framed, a respected critic whose reach extends from film, literature, and feminism to the culture at large offers a sustained exploration of feminist approaches to film and mass culture. Focusing on the contradictory impulses that characterize feminism, these range from examinations of how the classical Hollywood cinema has objectified the female body-even while offering engaging dreams of female possibility-to inquiries into the surprising sexual politics that often characterize "alternative" films.

The essays are grouped in three sections, each of which probes a particular example of the centrality of contradiction in the feminist enterprise. "Cherchez la Femme Fatale" asks how the destructive, diabolical woman in film (from Marlene Dietrich to Simone Signoret) performs the very contradictions that are central to the cinema, especially where the presumed heterosexual codes of cinema are concerned. "In and Out: Feminist Mass Culture" starts from the assumption that feminism is not excluded from, but rather is very much a part of popular culture, with examples drawn from film (Clint Eastwood; the woman-in-prison film genre), television (L.A. Law), and sports (ice skating). And finally, "Lesbian Looks" considers the question of feminist alternatives by looking at how lesbianism, as both defined by dominant culture and separate from it, has inspired a number of contemporary film and video makers (Midi Onodera, Chantal Akerman, Julie Zando, and Su Friedrich) to think and rethink the contradictory possibilities of the cinema.

Throughout, Mayne shows how contradiction informs feminism in productive and challenging ways. Accessible and engaging, Framed will be of interest to anyone who enjoys investigating women’s roles in the creation of mass culture.

Translation Inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

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Judith Mayne is professor of French and women’s studies at Ohio State University. She is the author of several books, including Directed by Dorothy Arzner (1994) and Cinema and Spectatorship (1993).

Book Default Image

Framed is a sophisticated examination of various mass-mediated texts, which focus less on developing theory and more on using theory to analyze particular texts. With a focus on particular representations of feminists and lesbians, Mayne engages each site with theoretical rigor. The book displays careful and sophisticated critical work. The level of theoretical depth in her readings is remarkable, as is her blending of various elements that should be considered in particular readings, such as genre, camera angles, and narrative recuperation strategies. The careful analyses are remarkable and thus should not be missed by those interested in feminist media criticism.

NWSA Journal

Framed opens itself to many different readers eager to trace a history of response to feminist and lesbian images, narratives, signs, and enigmas. While film scholars will follow the ramifications of Judith Mayne’s readings with a great deal of pleasure, one of the strengths of Mayne’s commitment to close reading is that she teaches her readers how to look at film. She is one of the most readable and responsible academic writers on cinema one could find.

The Lesbian Review of Books

Framed is an important and powerful book that is sure to change the terms of discussion in several fields.

Sharon Willis, University of Rochester

First-rate scholar Judith Mayne is that rare prolific author who never let us down. This new collection makes for a provocative and lively, but always well grounded, read.

B. Ruby Rich, author of Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement