Femininity, stardom and the everyday : a comparative account of the French female cinema star and the Hollywood female cinema star in French cultural discourses of the 1950s
This thesis explores the links between ideology, stardom, nationality and the everyday. It argues that as France underwent rapid economic expansion and technical modernisation in the 1950s, everyday life was subsequently rendered `unfamiliar' whilst simultaneously retaining its banal quotidian nature or `familiarity' - i.e. it became `uncanny'. It thus became an object of intense critical inquiry and there was also a resulting object-fetishisation within mass culture. The introductory chapter argues that in a climate of urbanisation, a new `leisure' culture and the explosion of the mass media (women's magazines, news and picture magazines such as L'Express and Paris-Match, American cinema, the launch of Cahiers du cinema, the beginnings of television) the American female star became newly visible in this `uncanny' everyday existence. Her fetishised body thus became a privileged space for expressing the processes of Americanisation and modernisation in France. Each empirical chapter takes an aspect of how modernity effects the body (cleanliness, spatial positioning, clothing) and then explores in detail the different ways these attributes were inflected in representations of the female American star in France and her French equivalent. My thesis thus engages with the ways in which cinematic representation effects the experience of and behaviour within everyday life, and how cultural discourses regulate both the individual and that national body. It closely examines Edgar Morin's writings on the mass media and also uses established theorists such as Henri Lefebvre in a new cinematic context. It also challenges the ways in which star studies generally concentrates on the star in their own culture in order to address stardom as an international phenomenon. It concludes that the presence of the female American star in France enabled the ideological management of the contradictory construction of femininity at this time.