Call for Paper – Special Issue #16
Genre en séries : cinéma, télévision, medias
“Femmes fatales”, “Men in crisis”?
Reexamining gender representations in film noir
Ever since their emergence in the field of academia, gender studies have looked closely at Hollywood film noir and neo-noir. Following the seminal book Women in Film Noir, edited by E. Ann Kaplan (1rsted. 1978, 2nd ed. 1998), important works have examined, using a psychoanalytic prism, the feminine (Doane 1991) and masculine (Krutnik 1991) characters of this genre, before others used a variety of approaches more attentive to socio-historical factors. The gender issues of Hollywood film noir from the 1940s and 1950s were thus placed in a context marked by the upheavals of war and the post-war period, as well as by the development of consumer society and urban modernity (see, among others, Cohan 1997, Biesen 2005, Jankovich 2011), while their reinvestment by neo-noir from the 1980s onwards raised new questions about the ideological implications of such a generic recycling process, caught between the effects of sexual liberation and the persistence of a puritanical morality (Letort 2007). Whereas some chapters of Women in Film Noir (Dyer 1998a and Kaplan 1998b) already pointed to the complexity and heterogeneity of gendered representations initially perceived as univocally misogynous, subsequent studies have further deconstructed this reductive vision (Cowie 1993, Spicer 2002, Hanson 2007, Grossman 2009, etc.) by discussing the relevance and the limits of notions such as “femmes fatales” and “men in crisis” with regard to the variety of models of femininity and masculinity proposed by film noir (“girls next door”, “good-bad girl”, “weak guy”, “damaged man”, “tough guy”, etc.), from the classical period to the contemporary era.
Despite this long critical tradition, many aspects of film noir are yet to be analyzed from a gendered, and more broadly cultural, perspective, especially in the context of French film studies, where works on film noir that include this approach are still scarce (Letort 2010, Esquenazi 2012, Pillard 2014 and 2019). This issue of Genre en séries: cinéma, télévision, médias therefore proposes to revisit this genre historically central to feminist film studies, in order to contribute to the renewal and new directions of this teeming field of research. On the one hand, the aim will be to extend our knowledge of long neglected films in the noir corpus, such as the French “noir realism” (Burch and Sellier 1996) or German “Strassenfilm” (Wager 1999), and, on the other hand, to revisit (supposedly) already well-known films in order to deepen our understanding of them with the help of new methodological frameworks.
Among the productions that have remained largely ignored by works studying film noir through the prism of gender, we must first mention those belonging to non-Hollywood cinema. Since the turn of the 2000s, a certain number of works have contributed to reassesing the national boundaries of this cinematic genre hitherto perceived as fundamentally American, thus highlighting not only its European roots and the aesthetic and cultural transfers that run through it (Vincendeau 1992, Morgan and Andrew 1996), but also its “global” dimension (Desser 2003) and the different forms it takes outside of Hollywood. However, despite some noteworthy studies (Spicer 1999 and 2007, Hanson and O’Rawe 2010, Pillard 2014, Da Silva 2014, Walker-Morrison 2019), these phenomena of transnational circulation remain seldom explored through the prism of gender. Similarly, whereas the literature-cinema relationship remains inescapable when it comes to the noir genre as a whole (Tadié 2009), its transmediality is beginning to be considered along new lines, with research looking at radio, comics, and television (Schlotterbeck 2013, Lyons 2013, Sanders 2013). However, the gendered dimension of these productions is still rarely examined. Finally, as various articles on its classic Hollywood expression have already pointed out (Cook 1978, Cowie 1993, Martin 1998), the very definition of film noir is far from trivial with regards to the identities and gender relations it represents. It is therefore important to revisit the processes of perpetual redefinition of this protean corpus, both to question its boundaries, as works suggesting the existence of a “noir women’s film” or “women’s film noir” invite us to do (Walsh 1986, Esquenazi 2012), and to circumscribe its ideological stakes and tensions as finely as possible.
Moreover, hitherto under-exploited approaches could make it possible to renew research on film noir from a gender perspective. Reception studies are, for instance, rarely utilized beyond analysis of professional film reviews, even though they could shed light on the various uses and readings that ordinary spectators make of these films (Pillard 2015). An analysis of the promotional materials, especially those produced by the studios, would be likely to enrich this research by considering all the media texts available to the public, whose heterogeneity allows for a multitude of appropriations (Haralovich 2013). Similarly, the study of production archives would refine our understanding of the role played by specific producers, directors or screenwriters in the elaboration of the gendered representations conveyed by these films (Biesen 2005, Sonnet 2011). For their part, star studies and acting studies would make it possible to analyze the way in which the persona of stars and their acting in films noirs participate in the construction of female and male models (or counter-models) specific to this genre (cf. Baron 2010). Finally, despite the existence of various works on racial issues (Diawara 1993, Lott 1997, Kaplan 1998c, Oliver and Trigo 2003), as well as representations of homosexuality and bisexuality (Dyer 1977, White 1991, Dyer 1998b, Straayer 1998, Dyer 2002, etc.) in these productions, the often complex articulation of gender with class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, generation, etc., remains to be explored in many noir or neo-noir films.
Papers may focus on the following:
“Femmes fatales” and “men in crisis”: relevance and limits of these notions
Transnationalism / cultural transfers / remakes / intertextuality
Films noirs of lesser studied cinemas: Latin America, Europe, Asia, etc.
Socio-historical contextualization of classic and contemporary noir
Generic hybridity (noir and comedy/action/gothic female/SF/horror/etc.)
Production / promotional materials / receptions
Articulation of issues of gender, race, sexuality, class, etc.
Stars, acting, performance
Transmediality (cinema, literature, television, radio, comics, video games, etc.)
Definitions of the noir corpus: gender issues
Submitted papers must not have been published in any other journal or conference proceedings.
The proposals will explain and justify precisely how they incorporate the existing literature on the genre and in relation to the notion of film noir.
Proposals (abstract of 500-800 words along with a short bio-bibliography) are to be sent to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org before September 15, 2021. A response will be given at the end of September, and the finished papers are to be submitted by March 15, 2022. They will then be subject to double-blind peer review. The issue will be published in fall 2022.
Abbott, Megan E. (2002), The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
Auerbach, Jonathan (2011), Dark Borders: Film Noir and American Citizenship, Durham & Londres, Duke University Press.
Baron, Cynthia (2010), “Film Noir: Gesture Under Pressure”, in Christine Cornea (ed.), Genre and Performance: Film and Television, Manchester, Manchester University Press, p. 18-37.
Biesen, Sheri Chinen (2005), Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press.
Boozer, Jack (1999), “The Lethal ‘Femme Fatale’ in the Noir Tradition”, Journal of Film and Video, 51(3-4), p.20-35.
Britton, Andrew (1993), “Betrayed by Rita Hayworth: Misogyny in The Lady from Shanghai”, in Ian Cameron (ed.),The Book of Film Noir, New York, Continuum, p. 213-21.
Bronfen, Elisabeth (2004), “Femme Fatale: Negotiations of Tragic Desire”, New Literary History, 35(1), p.103-116.
Bronfen, Elisabeth (2014), “Gender and Noir”, in Homer B. Pettey, R. Barton Palmer (eds.), Film Noir, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, p.143-163.
Burch, Noël & Sellier, Geneviève (1996), La Drôle de guerre du cinéma français, 1930-1960, Paris, Nathan.
Cohan, Steven (1997), Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties, Bloomington & Indianapolis, Indiana University Press.
Cook, Pam (1978),“Duplicity in Mildred Pierce”, in E. Ann Kaplan (dir.), Women in Film Noir, Londres, British Film Institute, p.69-80.
Cowie, Elizabeth (1993), “Film Noir and Women”, in Joan Copjec (ed.), Shades of Noir:A Reader, New York, Verso, p. 121-166.
Da Silva, Antônio Márcio (2014), The “Femme” Fatale in Brazilian Cinema: Challenging Hollywood Norms, New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
Desser, David (2003), “Global noir: Genre film in the age of transnationalism”, in Barry K. Grant (ed.), Film Genre Reader III, Austin, TX, University of Texas Press, p. 516-536.
Diawara, Manthia (1993), “Noir by Noirs: Towards a New Realism in Black Cinema”, African American Review, 50(4), p. 525-537.
Doane, Mary Ann (1991), Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, and Psychoanalysis, New York, Routledge.
Dyer, Richard (1977), “Homosexuality and Film Noir”, Jump Cut (16), p. 18-21.
Dyer, Richard (1998b), “Postscript: Queers and Women in Film Noir”, in E. Ann Kaplan (ed.),Women in Film Noir, London, BFI, p 123-129.
Dyer, Richard (2002), “Queer Noir”, in The Culture of Queers, London & New York, Routledge, p. 90-113.
Esquenazi, Jean-Pierre (2012), Le Film noir. Histoire et significations d'un genre populaire subversif, Paris, CNRS.
Farrimond, Katherine (2018), The Contemporary Femme Fatale: Gender, Genre and American Cinema, London & New York, Routledge.
Gates, Philippa (2014), “Independence Unpunished: The Female Detective in Classic Film Noir”, in Robert Miklitsch (ed.), Kiss the Blood off My Hands: On Classic Film Noir, Urbana, Univ. of Il. Press, p. 17-36.
Gopalan, Lalitha (2013), “Bombay Noir”, in Andrew Spicer and Helen Hanson (eds.), A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p. 496-511.
Greven, David (2011), Representations of Femininity in American Genre Cinema: The Woman’s Film, Film Noir, and Modern Horror, New York, Palgrave MacMillan.
Grossman, Julie (2009), Rethinking the Femme Fatale in Film Noir: Ready for Her Close-Up, London, Palgrave Macmillan.
Grossman, Julie (2014), “Women and Film Noir: Pulp Fiction and the Woman’s Picture”, in Robert Miklitsch (ed.), Kiss the Blood off My Hands: On Classic Film Noir, Urbana, Univ. of Il. Press, p.37-61.
Grossman, Julie (2020), The Femme Fatale, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press.
Hanson, Helen (2007), Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film, London, I. B. Tauris.
Hanson, Helen & Catherine O’Rawe (eds.) (2010), The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts, Houndmills & New York, Palgrave Macmillan.
Forth, Christopher E. (2013), “‘Nobody Loves a Fat Man’: Masculinity and Food in Film Noir”, Men and Masculinities, 16(4), p.387-406
Haralovich, Mary Beth (2013), “Selling Noir: Stars, Gender, and Genre in Film Noir Posters and Publicity”, in Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson (eds.), A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p. 245-263.
Harvey, Sylvia (1998), “Woman’s Place: The Absent Family of Film Noir.” in E. Ann Kaplan (ed.), Women in Film Noir, London, BFI, 1998, p. 22-34.
Hollinger, Karen (1996), “Film Noir, Voice-Over, and the Femme Fatale”, in Alain Silver & James Ursini (eds.), Film Noir Reader, New York, Limelight, p.242-259.
Jamieson, Gill & Anne McVitie (2016), “Noir building? Understanding the Immersive Fandom of Noir City”, Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception, 13(1), p.530-552.
Jancovich, Mark (2011), “‘Vicious Womanhood’: Genre, The Femme Fatale and Postwar America”,Canadian Journal of Film Studies, 20(1), p.100-114
Kaplan, E. Ann (ed.) (1998a), Women in Film Noir, London, British Film Institute .
Kaplan, E. Ann. (1998b), “The Place of Women in Fritz Lang’s The Blue Gardenia,” in E. Ann Kaplan (ed.), Women in Film Noir, London, BFI, p 81-88.
Kaplan, E. Ann (1998c), “The ‘Dark Continent’ of Film Noir: Race, Displacement and Metaphor in Tourneur’s Cat People (1942) and Welles’ The Lady From Shanghai (1948)”, in E. Ann Kaplan (ed.), Women in Film Noir, London, BFI, p.183-201
Krutnik, Frank (1991),In a Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity, New York, Routledge.
Lee, Nikki J.Y & Julian Stringer (2013), “Film Noir in Asia: Historicizing South Korean Crime Thrillers”, in Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson (eds.), A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p.477-495.
Letort, Delphine (2006), «Femme fatale/femme assassine dans le film noir : dévier le stéréotype », in Karine Hildenbrand (dir.), «Figures de femmes assassines – Représentations et idéologies », CYCNOS, 23(2), p.147-159
Letort, Delphine (2010),Du film noir au néo-noir : mythes et stéréotypes de l’Amérique, 1941-2008, Paris, L’Harmattan.
Letort, Delphine & Gelly, Christophe (2017), “Women’s Song and Dance Performances in Film Noir”, in Alain Silver & James Ursini (eds.), Film Noir: Light and Shadow, New York, Applause Theatre & Cinema Book, p.88-101.
Lott, Eric (1997), “The Whiteness of Film Noir”, American Literary History, 9(3), p.542-566
Lyons, James (2013), “‘It Rhymes with Lust’: The Twisted History of Noir Comics”, in Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson (eds.),A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p.458-475.
Martin, Angela (1998). “‘Gilda Didn’t Do Any of Those Things You’ve been Losing Sleep. Over!’: The Central Women of 40s Film Noir”, in E. Ann Kaplan (ed.), Women in Film Noir, London, BFI, p. 202-228.
Maury, Cristelle (2006), “Fighting One’s Way to Eroticism: the Representation of the Male Body in Postwar American Film Noir”, in Nieves Pascual, Laura Alonso-Gallo & Francisco Collado-Rodriguez (eds.), Masculinities, Femininities and the Power of the Hybrid in US Narratives: Essays on ender Borders, Heidelberg, Carl Winter Publishing House, p. 143-156.
Maury, Cristelle (2008), “‘The Dark Side of the Wartime Experience’? Calling into Question Feminist Film Noir Theory”, in Melvyn Stokes & Gilles Menegaldo (eds.),Cinéma et histoire, Film and History, Paris, Michel Houdiard, p. 89-103.
Maury, Cristelle (2011), « ‘Cops have homes too’: les hommes ordinaires du film noir», in Noëlle de Chambrun (dir.), Masculinité à Hollywood de Marlon Brando à Will Smith, Paris, L’Harmattan, p.119-142.
Maxfield, James F. (1996), The Fatal Woman: Sources of Male Anxiety In American Film Noir, 1941-1991, Madison, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
Morgan, Janice & Andrew, Dudley (1996),Iris (21), «European Precursors of Film Noir/Précurseurs européens du film noir », p.7-20.
Muller, Eddie (2001), Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir, New York, Regan Books.
Oliver, Kelly & Benigno Trigo (2003), Noir Anxiety, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.
Pillard, Thomas (2014), Le Film noir français face aux bouleversements de la France d'après-guerre (1946-1960), Nantes, Joseph K.
Pillard, Thomas (2015), «Le courrier des lecteurs du film complet: un outil pour évaluer les réceptions genrées des genres», in Gwénaëlle Le Gras et Geneviève Sellier (dir.),Cinémas et cinéphilies populaires dans la France d’après-guerre, 1945-1958, Paris, Nouveau Monde, p.201-216
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Roche, David & Maury, Cristelle (eds.) (2020), Women Who Kill. Gender and Sexuality in Film and Series of the Post-Feminist Era, London, Bloomsbury.
Sanders, Steven (2013), “Television Noir”, in Andrew Spicer and Helen Hanson (eds.),A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p. 440-457.
Schlotterbeck, Jesse (2013), “Radio Noir in the USA”, in Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson (eds.), A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p.423-439.
Sherwin, Miranda (2008), “Deconstructing the Male: Masochism, Female Spectatorship, and the Femme Fatale in Fatal Attraction, Body of Evidence, and Basic Instinct”, Journal of Popular Film and Television, 35(4), p.174-182
Sonnet, Esther (2011), “Why Film Noir? Hollywood, Adaptation, and Women’s Writing in the 1940s and 1950s”,Adaptation, 4(1), p. 1-13
Spicer, Andrew (2014), Film Noir, London & New York, Routledge .
Spicer, Andrew (ed.) (2007), European Film Noir, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2007.
Spicer, Andrew (1999), “The Emergence of the British Tough Guy: Stanley Baker, Masculinity and the Crime Thriller”, in Steve Chibnall & Robert Murphy (eds.),British Crime Cinema, London & New York, Routledge, p.81-93.
Straayer, Chris (1998), “Femme Fatale or Lesbian Femme: Bound in Sexual Différance”, in E. Ann Kaplan (ed.), Women in Film Noir, London, BFI, p.151-163.
Studlar, Gaylyn (2013), “The Corpse on Reprieve”: Film Noir’s Cautionary Tales of “Tough Guy” Masculinity”, in Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson (eds.), A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p. 369-386.
Tasker, Yvonne (2013), “Women in Film Noir”, in Andrew Spicer & Helen Hanson (eds.), A Companion to Film Noir, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell, p.353-368.
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White, Patricia (1991). “Female Spectator, Lesbian Specter: The Haunting”, in Diana Fuss (ed.), Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, New York, Routledge, p.142-172.