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  • Open Access
  • © 2020

Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women

Gender, Space and Mobility in Contemporary Cinema

Palgrave Macmillan


  • Provides an affirmative approach to feminism and film

  • Explores case studies of films that are wilful to change the status quo, deconstructing the binary social distinctions created and reinforced by many films

  • Uses a micro-analysis of four films to show how bodies and forms have the potential to revise women's current relations to space

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xvi
  2. Introduction: Gender, Space, and Affects in Film

    • Maud Ceuterick
    Pages 1-35Open Access
  3. Women’s Road Movies and Affirmative Wandering: Messidor

    • Maud Ceuterick
    Pages 37-56Open Access
  4. Cars: A Micro-analysis of Space and Bodies in Vendredi soir

    • Maud Ceuterick
    Pages 57-97Open Access
  5. Houses and Wilful Women: Wadjda

    • Maud Ceuterick
    Pages 99-123Open Access
  6. Streets: Freedom, Diaspora, and the Erotic in Head-On

    • Maud Ceuterick
    Pages 125-162Open Access
  7. Conclusion: Forms of Affirmative Aesthetics

    • Maud Ceuterick
    Pages 163-175Open Access
  8. Back Matter

    Pages 177-186

About this book

Fifty years of feminist thought have made the idea that women stay at home while men dominate the streets seem outdated; nevertheless, Ceuterick argues that theoretical considerations of gender, space, and power in film theory remain limited by binary models. Looking instead to more fluid models of spatial relations inspired by Sara Ahmed, Rosi Braidotti, and Doreen Massey, this book discovers wilful, affirmative, and imaginative activations of gender on screen. Through close, micro-analysis of historic European Messidor (Alain Tanner, 1979) and contemporary world cinema:  Vendredi Soir (Claire Denis, 2002), Wadjda (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2012), and Head-On (Fatih Akin, 2004), this book identifies affirmative aesthetics: light, texture, rhythm, movement and sound, all of which that participate in a rewriting of bodies and spaces. Ultimately, Ceuterick argues, affirmative aesthetics can challenge the gender categories and power structures that have been thought to determine our habitation of cars, homes, and city streets. Wilful women drive this book forward, through their movement and stillness, imagination and desire, performance and abjection.



  • Gender
  • Affect and Form
  • Space
  • Affirmative Ethics
  • Wilfulness
  • Contemporary Cinema
  • Open Access


Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women offers a genuinely original and sophisticated analysis of gendered space and cinematic (wilful) bodies. Ceuterick argues elegantly and persuasively that film can open up sites of contestation within which fixed, binary categories can be parsed and subverted as a form of ‘affirmative aesthetics’. This is a beautifully written monograph that combines radical intent with lucid thought; it will be a vital resource for feminist, gender and cinema scholars alike. Both timely and necessary, I, for one, welcome it wholeheartedly.”

— Anna Backman Rogers, University of Gothenburg


"This splendid and thoughtful book connects Rosi Braidotti's affirmative ethics and Sara Ahmed's concept of the willful subject to film in a way that many have been waiting for. Complementing feminist phenomenological approaches to film as well as Deleuze-inspired (feminist) theory and Eugenie Brinkema's work on affect, the extended and subtle discussion of both acclaimed (Claire Denis's Vendredi soir) and lesser-known (Alain Tanner's Messidor) films in Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women forges a newly affirmative mode of critique that will interest all scholars of film, gender and space."

- Kate Ince, University of Birmingham

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

    Maud Ceuterick

About the author

Maud Ceuterick is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellow in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen, Norway. She has previously published on the ‘road movie’ genre, gender and domesticity in transnational cinema, and space tourism in film.


Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women

  • Book Subtitle: Gender, Space and Mobility in Contemporary Cinema

  • Authors: Maud Ceuterick

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020

  • License: CC BY

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-37038-1Published: 27 October 2020

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-37041-1Published: 27 October 2021

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-37039-8Published: 26 October 2020

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVI, 186

  • Number of Illustrations: 2 b/w illustrations, 38 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Film Theory, Gender Studies

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 34.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 31.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)