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The Future of an Illusion

Film, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis

1989
Author:

Constance Penley

The Future of an Illusion

Analyzes the primary movements that have shaped the field of feminist film theory. Essential to anyone studying the sexual politics of representation.

Analyzes the primary movements that have shaped the field of feminist film theory. Essential to anyone studying the sexual politics of representation.

Penley's cool, sensible voice guides the reader through a maze of esthetic theory. Penley strikes sparks when she descends to the forge of popular culture.

Publishers Weekly

The Future of an Illusion documents the pivotal role Constance Penley has played in the development of feminist film theory. Penley analyzes the primary movements that have shaped the field: the conjunction of feminism, film theory, and psychoanalysis, and the inherent debates surrounding the politics of women and representation. These debates center on the position of women in the classical Hollywood narrative, the construction of the spectator’s desire in pornography and eroticism, and the implicitly male bias in psychoanalytically oriented film theory. Essential to anyone studying the sexual policies of representation, The Future of an Illusion ranges from avant-garde films to video, popular cinema, television, literature, and critical and cultural theory.

Constance Penley is associate professor of English and film studies at the University of Rochester. A co-editor of the journal Camera Obscura, she is the editor of Feminism and Film Theory.

The Future of an Illusion

Constance Penley is professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara and the co-director of the Center for Film, Television and New Media.

The Future of an Illusion

Penley's cool, sensible voice guides the reader through a maze of esthetic theory. Penley strikes sparks when she descends to the forge of popular culture.

Publishers Weekly

Penley seeks to call, 'Cut'-to halt the illusions, dismantle them, and figure out what allows them to hold our collective psyche in thrall.

New North Artscape

Penley demonstrates the way in which ideas about femininity and masculinity are articulated and negotiated through a wide variety of cultural forms. This book is a ‘must’ for those on all sides of the ‘feminism and psychoanalysis’ debate, and for anyone interested in feminist cultural analysis.

Rocky Mountain Review

Constance Penley has had a significant hand in shaping feminist film theory. The value of The Future of an Illusion lies in its perspicacious defense of psychoanalysis and the fine-tuned analyses it offers of masculinity and the male imaginary.

South Atlantic Review

The Future of an Illusion is essential reading for anyone studying or interested in the sexual politics of representation, feminist or film theories. Penley’s collection of essays clearly defines her cental role in the development of feminist critical theory.

European Studies Journal

The Future of an Illusion conveniently collects the observations of an elegant and wide-ranging cultural critic.

Modern Philology

The editors note that in content and context and in tone and approach the book version represents a significant advancement in the examination of masculinity 'from an explicitly feminist theoretical and historical perspective.' That advancement involves consideration of masculinity and patriarchy neither as monolithic nor as a victimizing force but as 'split and contradictory' and as 'uneven and sometimes successful in its effects.' These wide-ranging and resourceful essays focus on 'straight masculinity' (usually white) 'caught between fear of women and fear of homosexuality.' Thus, concepts historically and traditionally applied to women and gays can be used to explain a troubled and troublesome masculinity that exhibits male hysteria, subjectivity, gender uncertainty, masochism, and narcissm. These readings reveal the historically and socially shifting meanings and representations of masculinity (and its relations to women, minorities, and sexual groups) as well as the 'crisis-ridden' qualities that cause male anxiety and resulting efforts to shore up or defend masculinity.

Choice

You owe it to yourself to give this 13-essay collection more than shelf space or a look-through. This volume will help you better understand AIDS activists, high-tech office workers, Japanese technoporn producers, political artists, pregnant women, rap groups, rock stars, science fictions writers, Star Trek fans, and teenage hookers.

Labor Studies Journal