Trousers and tiaras : growing up with Audrey Hepburn
This thesis considers the construction and circulation of the image-text 'Audrey Hepburn', and its reception by young British women across two moments: the 1950s and 1960s, and the 1990s. The project uses a tripartite methodology: close analysis of film texts, press and publicity relating to Hepburn; archival research using sources including women's and film fan magazines, and interviews with women who admire and have admired Audrey Hepburn. The thesis argues that Hepburn can be understood as a star who offers an address to a feminine audience, and goes on to explore the taking up of that address through analysis of the data gathered in the interviews, paying particular attention to questions of class, generation and socio-historical moment. The research presents a number of different kinds of material: it considers Hepburn as a star and the reasons for her enduring popularity; it suggests the flexibility of her image as key in understanding this longevity and in enabling her to appeal to women across lines of class and generation. The thesis argues that it is this flexibility, and the ways in which Hepburn's image manages social contradictions, which have been key to the way consent has been secured from women around her as a star. It investigates the nature of the relationship between Hepburn and the women who admire her, and also, through their detailed talk, offers insight into the social history of femininity. In attending to both text and audience, the thesis attempts to think the relationship between them outside psychoanalytically informed theories of identification which have been hegemonic in film theory, offering instead the terms resonance and recognition as ways of understanding that relationship. An interdisciplinary project, the thesis represents a 'cultural studies of film' which extends existing work on stars such as Dyer (1979,1982,1986, 1991) and Stacey (1994).