Gendering History on Screen: Women Filmmakers and Historical Films

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    Abstract

    In movies about landmark historical events such as wars, occupations, or migrations or historically important personalities, there is an unspoken set of rules for how gender ought to be expressed. Often condemned by critics for being excessively emotional or pathetic, films by female directors featuring female protagonists may be popular with audiences but judged incapable of expressing 'real' history. Audiences learn more about the past from movies than from any other form of entertainment, and historical and heritage cinemas now comprise a burgeoning scholarly field. Yet to date there has not been a book-length analysis of female film directors' innovations in films about the historical past. With and without critical recognition, women are making important stories about the past and bringing new representations of agency and activism to the screen, often construed in ways that mobilise the past for the present, and always filtered through the lens of contemporary feminisms. Julia Erhart's new book situates women filmmakers' work within a context of other women directors from France, Denmark, Iran, Australia, the UK, the United States, and Spain and draws connections between their representational strategies and their concerns with visioning the past within the prism of the present. Written in an approachable yet theoretically informed prose, Erhart compellingly explores how foundational historiographic concepts like valour, memory, and resistance are re-envisioned within uniquely revised sub-genres that include biopics, historical documentaries, Holocaust movies, and films about the 'War on Terror'. Gendering History on Screen demonstrates how directors shape audiences' sense of the past, contour globally-relevant themes and narratives to suit female characters, and map a critique of national policies and institutions on to contemporary feminisms. Gendering History will be invaluable to students and scholars of historical film and women's cinema.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationLondon, United Kingdom
    PublisherI. B. Tauris
    Number of pages240
    ISBN (Electronic)9781786724267, 9781786734266
    ISBN (Print)9781784535285
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Publication series

    NameGender and Popular Culture

    Keywords

    • women filmmakers
    • movies
    • gender
    • films
    • women directors

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  • Cite this

    Erhart, J. (2018). Gendering History on Screen: Women Filmmakers and Historical Films. (Gender and Popular Culture). I. B. Tauris.