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Heightened Genre and Women's Filmmaking in Hollywood

The Rise of the Cine-fille

Palgrave Macmillan

Authors:

  • Sheds new light on the complex relationship between women filmmakers and the gendering of genres

  • Offers a variety of analyses, with readings of films ranging from Clueless to Zero Dark Thirty

  • Utilizes an interdisciplinary approach drawing upon spectatorship, ethnography, critical discourse, philosophical, and neuroscientific perspectives alike

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  • ISBN: 978-3-030-70994-5
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Softcover Book USD 99.99
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Table of contents (5 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xiv
  2. Pastiching the Popular

    • Mary Harrod
    Pages 77-164
  3. Art Imitating Life Imitating Art

    • Mary Harrod
    Pages 165-245
  4. Back Matter

    Pages 261-304

About this book

Despite the widely publicised prejudice faced by women in Hollywood, since around 1990 a significant minority of female directors have been making commercially and culturally impactful films there across the full range of genres. This book explores movies by filmmakers Amy Heckerling, Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Catherine Hardwicke, Sofia Coppola, Kimberly Peirce, Kathryn Bigelow and Greta Gerwig, including many which are still critically neglected or derided, seeing them as offering a new understanding of genre filmmaking. That is, like many other contemporary films but in a striking proportion within the smaller set of mainstream movies by women, this body of work revels in a heightened genre status that allows its authors to simultaneously address ‘intellectual’ cinephilic pleasures and bodily-emotive ones. Arguing through close analysis that these films demonstrate the inseparability of such strategies of engagement in contemporary genre cinema, Heightened Genre reclaims women’s mainstream filmmaking for feminism through a recalibration of genre theory itself. 


Keywords

  • Women Directors
  • Feminist Film Criticism
  • Women Filmmakers
  • Hollywood Cinema
  • Genre Theory

Reviews

“Harrod’s book builds on the brilliance and ingenuity of her previous work. The very notion of heightened genre offers an interesting and productive way to explore the landscape of women’s filmmaking in recent decades. Harrod’s focus on genre (in her own expansive definition) allows her to bring together a wide range of women filmmakers who explore the very possibilities of genre filmmaking. Putting together Sofia Coppola, Amy Heckerling, Nora Ephron and others in the same volume gives Harrod’s readers the opportunity to see the importance of popular genres (the western, the teen comedy, the please-get-together romantic comedy, to name a few) to an understanding of contemporary women’s filmmaking. More important, Harrod’s analysis suggests points of fruitful contact between women filmmakers whose work might otherwise be seen as quite distinct. This is a brilliant volume, and I expect it will be highly influential in film studies as a whole.” (Judith Mayne, Emerita Professor of French, Ohio State University, and author of The Woman at the Keyhole)

“Mary Harrod’s Heightened Genre and Women’s Filmmaking in Hollywood breathes new life into the feminist film theory debates we had nearly forgotten. Noting the increase in popular genre films directed by women, she  responds to this important development with a challenge to us in the form of new theoretical terminology. Affect theory meets and mingles with genre convention in her concept of “heightened genre.” And if the female director is a “cine-fille,” as Harrod proposes, she may be even more “cineliterate” than male counterparts who may not be crediting their audiences with as much genre knowledge as they deserve. I predict that we’ll be engaging with “heightened genre” for years to come.” (Jane M. Gaines, Professor of Film, Columbia University Author, Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries?)

“Harrod’s study of women filmmakers' work in genre cinema represents an important contribution to feminist film studies and to genre studies. The book articulates persuasively the necessity of accounting for self-reflexive techniques as an element of genre filmmaking, one that involves powerfully emotive connections with audiences. Harrod’s lucid analyses of women filmmakers’ genericity gives space to films and filmmakers much discussed – Clueless, Bigelow – and those too rarely elaborated in the frame of authorship (notably Hardwicke’s Twilight). Across multiple genres including the gothic and horror, teen film, war movie and rom-com, Harrod’s analysis is consistently nuanced and perceptive. Heightened Genre fully demonstrates the feminist potential of genericity, analysing women filmmakers’ participation in genre, rather than extolling them for subverting genre codes.” (Yvonne Tasker, Professor of Media and Communication, University of Leeds) 

“Perceptively identifying what she calls “women’s aptitude for heightened genre filmmaking,” Mary Harrod incisively diagrams how a renewed attention to affect as both an aesthetic and an emotion can re-politicize not only films but also entire genres long thought to be incapable of that work. Analyzing female filmmakers’ self-conscious use of intertextual relay that goes beyond pastiche in order to make emotive address, Harrod upends received wisdom about genre film making. In so doing, she persuasively recuperates female-directed roms-coms, teenpics, fantasy film, and action movies for both the discipline of film studies, and—perhaps even more importantly—for their impassioned audiences.” (Suzanne Leonard, Professor of English, Simmons University) 

“Through a theoretically informed and detailed examination of the aesthetics of a range of films by contemporary women filmmakers, Harrod examines how women filmmakers imprint their authorial signatures through foregrounding personal style in the midst of generic conventions. In her close analysis of teenpics to rom coms and war films to sport films, as well as the heritage film and docudramas, Harrod shows how the filmmakers heighten the conventions of mainstream genres, harnessing their affective power to negotiate the intimate relationship between experience and ideology, drawing the spectator into the cinephilic feminist orbit of the cine-fille filmmaker. In the midst of a new rise in popular feminism, this book opens up new space for feminist film studies to rethink the relationship between women and popular forms of cinema.” (Shelley Cobb, Associate Professor of Film, University of Southampton)

Authors and Affiliations

  • School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

    Mary Harrod

About the author

Mary Harrod is Associate Professor in French Studies at the University of Warwick. She is the author of From France with Love: Gender and Identity in French Romantic Comedy (I.B. Tauris, 2015) and the co-edited collections The Europeanness of European Cinema (I. B. Tauris, 2015), Women Do Genre in Film and Television (Routledge, 2017, winner of the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies Best Edited Collection Prize 2019) and Imagining ‘We’ in the Age of ‘I’: Romance and Social Bonding in Contemporary Culture (Routledge, 2021).


Bibliographic Information

Buying options

eBook USD 79.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-70994-5
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 99.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)