Since at least the early 1970s, when Claire Johnston observed that despite ‘the enormous emphasis placed on woman as spectacle in the cinema … woman as woman is largely absent’, the relationship of cinema to the construction of gender identities and gendered pleasures has been a central concern within Film Studies. Bringing together the political concerns of second-wave feminism and the dizzying developments in theorizing about representation, culture, and society, early work—as exemplified by Johnston’s writing—changed radically the nature of Film Studies and the issues which it would address. Later scholars attended to concerns about sexuality, drawing on queer theory; and race and ethnicity, often influenced by postcolonialism. Most recently, Global Cinema Studies has sought to refocus these concerns yet again, whilst ‘postfeminism’ has questioned many of the assumptions on which Film Studies work on gender has rested.
Film and Gender is a new title in Routledge’s Major Works series, Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies. It meets the need for an authoritative reference work to enable users to navigate and make sense of the subject’s large literature, its history, and its continuing centrality within Film Studies. Compiled by Sue Thornham, whose work includes Passionate Detachments: An Introduction to Feminist Film Theory (1997) and Feminist Film Theory: A Reader (1999), and Niall Richardson, author of The Queer Cinema of Derek Jarman (2009) and Transgressive Bodies: Representations in Film and Popular Culture (2010), this eagerly awaited collection brings together in four volumes the foundational and the very best and most provocative scholarship on film and gender.
Film and Gender includes a full index and comprehensive introductions, newly written by the editors, which place the collected material in its historical and intellectual context. It is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by scholars and advanced students as a vital research tool.