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Title: Addicted to distractions : imagined female spectator-participants and the early German popular cinema as discourse, 1910-1919
Author: McCabe, Janet
ISNI:       0000 0001 3622 6448
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2001
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Addicted to Distractions is a Foucauldian enquiry into the writing of film history and the theorising of cinema in relation to the issues raised by feminist arguments through to gendered representation. The thesis focuses on the German popular cinema from 1910-1919. With its seemingly cluttered spatial arrangements, much adored female movie stars and avid women audiences, it offers a unique moment to look differently at a cinema usually considered by film historians as of little interest except as the precursor to the critically-acclaimed post-war Weimar cinema ofthe twenties. In recovering this apparently obscure(d) cinema, I identify the German popular cinema from 1910-1919 as a discourse; that is, a discursive formation constituted from a series of statements within which, and by which, the German popular cinema of the teens came to be known. Foucault's notion of discourse as a circumscribed field of knowledge and power is central to my project. According to him, nothing 'exists' simply to be talked about. Rather, it is discourse by which something becomes known. By analysing the statements that constitute the discursive formation of a discourse, we can see how the speakers and listeners, writers and readers came to know who they were within the social world. Studying discourse requires an understanding of the social and cultural areas through which that discourse determines knowledge: both the institutions and its 'qualified' speakers with knowledge and authority to make the discourse known, and a comparative system which determines how experiences and identities are categorised. The discourse of early German popular cinema is thus a field of statements about the institution of cinema and its audiences, about cultural authority and about the interaction between these different areas. The aim of the thesis is to understand how the female spectator - or what I shall call the female spectator-participant - was discursively constituted in discourse. Generated within the context of German modernity, and at a historical moment in which the bourgeoisie reacted against the new by asserting cultural agency, it was in part through a discourse of the female spectator-participant within which the institution of popular cinema came to see itself. Studying the female spectator-participant as a discourse we may come to understand how the popular cinema came to produce knowledge about itself in terms of its industrial profile, the products it offered and the films it screened. Furthermore, by demonstrating awareness of this discourse, we may be able to rethink our ideas about the construction offemale subjectivity, gender representation and spectatorship practices for, in knowing how the discourse was formed, we may also learn how women were positioned to think about themselves. I take the critical work of the leading feminist scholar in this area Heide Schlupmann as the starting point for my own theoretical endeavour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: HM Sociology ; AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities ; CB History of civilization ; D History (General) ; LA History of education ; ML Literature on music ; PN Literature (General)