The Single Woman Author on Film Screening Postfeminism

Thouaille, Marie-Alix (2018) The Single Woman Author on Film Screening Postfeminism. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis theorises the single woman author as a recurrent and distinctive character in Anglo-American film in the period 1994-2018. Tracking the figure across genres and industrial provenances through detailed textual analysis, I uncover the shared meanings and feeling rules embedded within, produced by, and circulating through, this figure. In doing so, I identify four key interrelated representational tropes. Firstly, authorship and singleness signify as mutually constitutive identities indicative of postfeminist agency. Secondly, authorship functions as an autobiographical outlet enabling the expression of the heroine’s innate femininity, partly defusing anxieties about women’s professional labour. Thirdly, authorship facilitates the performance of relational labour promising to remedy the single woman’s disordered unmarried subjectivity. And, finally, the single woman author’s success is authorised by a male mentor in ways which authenticate or naturalise patriarchal authority.

Through these tropes and their repetition, authoriality is imagined as an ideal form of labour for the single woman subject. Though both female singleness and female authorship are mobilised as signifiers of female agency with the potential to upend the traditionally gendered distribution of power, this thesis reveals how the single woman author has become a desirable postfeminist subjectivity precisely because she leaves undisturbed hierarchies of gender and power. This figure is therefore a site of contradiction, ambiguity, and ambivalence. As such, she is an ideal prism through which to chart shifts within postfeminism itself. The evolution of the above tropes in recent films accordingly suggests that the postfeminist sensibility has lately undergone an affective shift. Recent texts, this thesis concludes, demonstrate the filtering of feminist critiques of patriarchal structures into popular culture. However, at the same time, they are also suggestive of the continued resilience of postfeminism, and its ongoing ability to take feminism into account.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2018 14:05
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2018 14:05

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