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Speaker Series

Tuesday, April 30 at 6:00 PM

Feminist Film Theory: The Male Gaze at 50
Kathleen Rowe Karlyn

Fifty years ago, Laura Mulvey published "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (1973), an essay that transformed film studies by linking the visual pleasures of cinema with structures of patriarchal power and by putting the "male gaze" into the critical lexicon. Mulvey's analysis was based on Hollywood cinema, and feminist film scholarship has historically been drawn to popular genres that resonate with female audiences.

This talk will identify key moments in feminist film theory, including challenges to Mulvey's work. It will also consider the impact of female directors in Hollywood, who are confronting issues of race, gender, power and pleasure head-on and whose achievements in films such as Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017) and The Woman King (Gina Prince-Blythewood, 2022) are charting new territory for female artists and audiences alike.

This exhibition is presented in association with (re)FOCUS, a citywide collaboration of over sixty large, small, and diverse visual arts organizations, all addressing feminist issues of marginalization, gender, social justice, and inequality. Visit refocus2024.org/events for upcoming events.

Kathleen Rowe Karlyn, professor emerita at the University of Oregon and founding director of its Cinema Studies program, is the author of the award-winning The Unruly Woman: Gender and the Genres of Laughter (Texas, 1995) and Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers (Texas, 2011).

Her research has often explored popular figures and texts—from Roseanne to Wonder Woman--that elicit intense and often polarizing responses from audiences and critics alike. Recognized as at the cutting edge of politically engaged feminist media studies and taught in university classrooms worldwide, her books and articles have been translated, reprinted and widely cited in diverse academic disciplines.

Karlyn holds a Ph.D. in Telecommunication and Film from the University of Oregon, a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the Johns Hopkins University, and a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Connecticut, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude.

Non-member price: $15.00
This event is free to Athenaeum members.