Professor Laura Mulvey lecture

21 February 2023

The Department of Film Studies and the St Andrews Institute for Gender Studies are delighted to welcome you to a guest lecture with Professor Laura Mulvey, at 4 pm on Monday 6th of March in School III. Professor Mulvey is a central figure in feminist film studies, most well-known for her article 'Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema'. This article remains one of the most foundational pieces of work in the discipline, and helped to popularise the term 'male gaze'. We are very lucky to have her in St Andrews, and we hope to see you all there. See below for abstract and biography.

If you would like to attend, please sign up via Eventbrite.

Flappers on film: the young modern woman in 1920s cinema 

In this presentation Professor Laura Mulvey will revisit her long-standing interest in the flapper film. The energetic and self-sufficient young modern woman who emerged into city life and onto the screen in the 1920s first caught her attention as a possible antidote to the woman as spectacle, discussed in her 1975 essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’. The flapper’s image was, by and large, emblematic of an aspiration to economic and emotional freedom, carried onto the screen, by the mobility of the cinema itself in the late silent period. However, this seemingly innocent image, quickly picked up by Hollywood, obscured certain social and ideological contradictions: in the US the concept of the young modern woman was not only de-politicised and highly commodified but she also embodied whiteness at home and facilitated the diffusion of ‘American-ness’ abroad. But, at the same time, urbanisation and modernity, in various key cities across the world, generated indigenous versions of the young modern woman, in which she came to embody, once again, a social and iconographic emblem of both liberation and contradiction. With clips from contemporary films, Professor Mulvey will raise how some of these issues materialised on late 1920s and early 30s screens. 

Laura Mulvey (born 1941 in Oxford) is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. She was Director of Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) from 2012 to 2015. She is the author of Visual and Other Pleasures (1989); Citizen Kane (1992); Fetishism and Curiosity (1996); Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (2006); and Afterimages: On Cinema, Women and Changing Times (2019). She has co-edited British Experimental Television (2007); Feminisms (2015); and Other Cinemas: Politics, Culture and British Experimental Film in the 1970s (2017). Mulvey made six films in collaboration with Peter Wollen, including Riddles of the Sphinx (1977), and two films with artist and filmmaker Mark Lewis.