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Representing the Woman

Cinema and Psychoanalysis

1996
Author:

Elizabeth Cowie

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Examines the politics of film representation using psychoanalytic and feminist theory.

An important contribution to feminist film theory by a major figure in the field, Representing the Woman is an essential component of every cinema studies and women’s studies bookshelf. Elizabeth Cowie provides a discussion of cinematic desire that shows the interrelationship of fantasy, subjectivity, voyeurism, fetishism, and identification in the making of feminine and masculine film spectators.

“Intelligent, ambitious…Those readers with an interest in the interface between psychoanalysis and cinema will have a clearer picture about how women (and men) and their desires are represented.” The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

In this long-awaited volume, eminent film theorist Elizabeth Cowie provides a provocative challenge to contemporary views of cinema’s pleasures for men and women. Drawing on the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Lacan, Cowie presents a discussion of cinematic desire that shows the interrelationship of fantasy, subjectivity, voyeurism, fetishism, and identification in the making of feminine and masculine film spectators.

Cowie uses close analysis of a number of films, including Blue Steel, Coma, Gertrud, Morocco, and Smooth Talk, to explore the junctures and disjunctures involved in the cultural production of gendered viewers. She reexamines specific theories of Freud and Lacan, challenging the view put forward by film theorist Christian Metz that cinema is imaginary. She also discusses the role of masquerade in sexuality, the concept of the real as opposed to social reality, and the place of fetishism in theories of ideology.

An important contribution to feminist film theory by a major figure in the field, Representing the Woman is an essential component of every cinema studies and women’s studies bookshelf.

Copublished with Macmillan, UK

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Elizabeth Cowie is senior lecturer in film studies at the University of Kent, England. With Parveen Adams, she coedited The Woman in Question (1990).

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“Intelligent, ambitious…Those readers with an interest in the interface between psychoanalysis and cinema will have a clearer picture about how women (and men) and their desires are represented.” The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

“This book will redefine the direction of psychoanalytic film studies and should not be missed by film students.” Choice

“This book will redefine the direction of psychoanalytic film studies and, difficult as it is, should not be missed by film students.” CHOICE