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Film Women History in Film Discussion

1. “The task of rendering ourselves visible has, for feminist historians, entailed a process of re-reading the very notion of history: not as a series of Grand Events in the public domain, but as a constant interaction of the realms of private and public life. For women have always participated in public life, although most frequently through the mediation of domestic life. ‘The personal is political’ has by now become a truism for feminists….” Judith Mayne from Our Childhoods, Ourselves text.

Discuss this idea in relation to the following films: A Girl’s Own Story, Growing Up Female, Wanda, Smiling Madame Beudet, and Wasp. Compare and contrast their intentions and strategies. What is rendered visible and at what cost? What is invisible and at what cost? How is the struggle for agency represented? Many of these films deal with social relations within family life–analyze what is hidden in family life and how power is deployed. Contrast the critiques offered by these films and the forms these critiques take. Are women empowered? How? What is the movement from object to subject? Make sure to develop your discussion fully use at least 6 of your readings as sources and quotes. Construct a visual analysis of key sequences.

2. Discuss both the construction of masculinity & the construction of femininity in Dance Girl Dance and She Done Him Wrong. How do the main characters conform to or resist conventional notions of gender? How is power negotiated and deployed? Both films deal with female characters that are performers. How do they ‘perform’ their gender? How do they deal with ‘to-be-looked-at-ness? Are the films similar or not? In what ways? Make sure to 4 quotes from multiple readings to support your points and use specific examples from the films – examples from both the content of the stories and the visuals—the compositions of shots, where the camera is, how the audience is placed, etc.

3.Identify 3 symbols in Meshes of the Afternoon. Where and when do they appear? (Provide specific examples from film.) What might they mean? How does Deren use rhythm and repetition? Use at least 3 quotes from the texts on Deren


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