The Gender Games
Stories in/for the Contemporary World
Side event on gender in French cinema now announced - see below for details.
26-27 November, 2012
Deakin Prime (City Campus), Level 3, 550 Bourke Street, Melbourne.
Gender is embedded in the narratives we use to construct and understand the world and our place within it. Across media forms, genres and societal institutions, stories about men, women, girls and boys permeate our lives. Sometimes these stories reinforce old ideas; sometimes they put forward new ones. The Gender Games is a cross-institutional symposium that aims to draw together a diverse range of scholars and research. The symposium offers opportunities for rich inter- and cross-disciplinary dialogue on the ways in which contemporary stories of gender are told.
Papers address, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- (Re)articulating gender in/on social media and online gaming
- Gender norms and subversions in literature, film and television
- Teaching gender and gendered education
- Gender in legal narratives and its implications
- Sociological/anthropological narratives of gender
- Gender in health and human behaviour
- Revisioning gender through new historical perspectives
- Politics, politicians and gender
- Sport and gender performativity
- Gender in popular media, Public Relations and journalism
- Transgendered narratives
Registrations now closed. Please contact Adam Brown for enquiries.
Monday 26 November 2012, 6.00-7.30pm
Theatre D, Old Arts, University of Melbourne
As part of the upcoming Symposium, Monash, Deakin and Melbourne Universities invite you to join them for a special event, convened by Associate Professor Adrian Martin, Film and Television Studies, Monash University. To be chaired by Dr Benjamin Andréo, Monash University.
This is a free event and all are welcome.
Making Shift: Playing Out a New Femininity in Robert Siodmak’s Pièges (1939)
Dr Philip Anderson
Pièges (1939) – released in English as Personal Column though the literal translation of the French title is “traps” – is the last film Robert Siodmak made in France, where he had taken refuge in 1933, before he went to Hollywood on the very eve of WW2. Indeed he had left Paris before its French release in December 1939.
Commentary on this film tends to focus on the shifts the film makes in relation to genre, unfolding as a mystery involving the disappearance of young women – a newspaper headline is shown at the beginning of the film: “Des jeunes filles ont diaparu”[“Young women have gone missing”] – and the recruitment of a young woman to solve it, but equally developing a love story, musical elements, bizarre and unsettling characters and situations related to the mystery that prefigure film noir to which Siodmak would make a significant contribution in Hollywood.
This paper will focus on the female protagonist of the film, Adrienne Charpentier (played by Marie Déa), tracing the many shifts that she makes. It asks if this film is not largely about the figure of the jeune fille [young woman] (rather than “des jeunes filles” [young women]) going missing, so to speak, and being replaced by another figure of modern femininity less easy to trap, undoing and confounding the traps (and trappers) of her world.
Philip Anderson lectures in French Studies at Monash University. He teaches courses in French Literature and French Film including film noir in France.
The Difficulty of Being ‘Modern Woman’: Jean-Luc Godard’s A Woman is a Woman (1961)
Scholarship on Jean-Luc Godard’s Une femme est une femme / A Woman is a Woman (1961) generally describes the film not only as lightweight but also sexist and condescending. The film’s protagonist, Angéla (Anna Karina), has been described as an imbecile; and Karina, for Godard, nothing more than a demiurge and a woman-child. Godard came upon the subject of the film while thinking about ‘musical neorealism’, a conjunction he invents and describes as an absolute contradiction. These two contradictory elements, neorealism and the musical, mirror the ambiguous position of Angéla as a woman in France in the 1960s. Commenting on a play by Brecht, Walter Benjamin remarked: “Galy Gay, the protagonist of the play A Man’s a Man, is nothing but an exhibit of the contradictions which make up our society”. Angéla functions in much the same way: she is the unity of opposing forces, not so much a character as a dramatic or narrative device. If Angéla is described as ‘dopey’ or lacking depth, it is because her depth lies elsewhere, in the social contradictions of which she is a figure. This paper proposes a more complex reading of Angéla and examines the way Godard’s film presages many feminist/post-feminist debates that would not surface until much later.
Felicity Chaplin is a PhD candidate in French Studies and Film and Television Studies at Monash University. Her thesis is on the figure of la Parisienne in cinema.
The Poetics and Poiesis of Sexual Difference in Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante (1934)
Associate Professor Adrian Martin
“The story is about a woman from the land who marries a man from the water”: Jean Vigo’s lyrical classic L’Atlante, like the roughly contemporary works of F.W. Murnau, has often aroused commentaries (such as that one randomly plucked from the Internet) which structurally speak of the film in terms of gendered opposites: man/woman, land/sea, city/country, rationality/desire … Yet the current rechanneling of Vigo’s legacy in the work of (for example) Leos Carax should be impetus enough for us to revisit this masterpiece L’Atalante, with an eye and ear to its poetic richness and semantic complexity. That the film is saturated in the terms of a masculine-feminine sexual difference cannot be denied for a second: indeed, its entire aesthetic system is generated from this. But in, for instance, the celebrated parallel montage of a sexual ecstasy that is fused, while the bodies of the man and woman are kept resolutely separate, Vigo creates, through all the resources of cinema, a play of sexual difference that is closer to the philosophy of Luce Irigaray than to the casual, closed, misogynistic assumptions of his time and place.
Adrian Martin is lecturer in Film and Television Studies and Co-Director of the Research Unit in Film Culture and Theory at Monash University. His latest book of film theory is Last Day Every Day (Punctum).
Past and Present Conferences and Seminars
Visit our archives of conferences and seminars - recordings of many papers are available for download: