Meet the vamps documentary hypothesis

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meet the vamps documentary hypothesis

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Blackness and whiteness thus have not only been intertwined with each other but also intertwined with class and — in an important part of his argument — gender: True, white women sometimes performed in blackface in the latter years of the minstrel show and sporadically thereafter — Shirley Temple, for example.

And some white singers have channeled black voices — think of Madeleine Peyroux, who enacts elegant song stylings with a Billie Holiday—tinted voice. The ease with which Jenner, Perry, and others Lady Gaga has appeared in blackface on the cover of V Magazine, for example, and Madonna may as well have have accessed blackness as part of their public identities feels different, new: Theft as Love So much for the theft part of the equation. But this still leaves open the question I posed Eric — what about the love?

To be sure, love is a complicated emotion: Not that the two have no relation.

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The great analysts of emotion tell us — Proust is by far the most cogent — that love is as full of ambivalence, rage, will-to-power as it is of tenderness, joy, and exaltation; while exalting the lover, it also frequently seeks to dominate, control, or drain the very otherness of the other that inspired the feeling in the first place, operating, in other words, as a species of theft.

But is there a more benign, less ferocious way to think about love? After all, tenderness, joy, exaltation are not emotions that we should wish to do without if we want to stay human. And there are many delicious as well as ferocious subtleties, nuances, and outright mysteries to love, to put it mildly. How to affirm — how to even begin to talk about — that side of the equation without falling into the trap of celebrating ethno-racial appropriation? Buried not very far under the critique of racial theft is a privileging of African-American expressive culture as a resource in and of itself — in other words, an object worthy of love.

meet the vamps documentary hypothesis

Like love itself, the closer one gets to this object — Black expressive culture — the more complex it seems, particularly in relation to white culture. In the last years perhaps, and certainly within the last 50, African-American and white cultures have been tied together in a complex bond of quotation, ironic and not-so-ironic appropriation, larceny across, through, and above the color line. To make this point concrete, let me turn to another moment from the Los Angeles conference with which I began.

Before my own talk at that conference, and well before the champagne, I can assure you, I was wandering around listening to music on this will tell you how long ago this event happened my iPod. Obsessed, I shared with all around me, including Eric, who sweetly consented to my putting headphones on his ears, my enthusiasm of that moment: After the next verse, the song proper concludes, but the music continues to — as it were — walk on, as a series of instruments — oboes, flutes, etc.

We do so because the song brings together so many musical lifeworlds, to invoke a phrase that doubtless sounds better in German. The Hammond organ comes straight out of the black church where Hayes began his musical career at age five. And the song was written by the great Jewish-American songwriter Burt Bacharach words by his most accomplished lyricist, Hal David.

The song offers an object lesson of the coming together of African-American and white music — to the complication of both. Any day now … After which Jackson enters behind him … Figure Five: It seems a case of uptight white vs.

This and other collaborations across a still-extant race line, Bacharach claimed, changed his work. Ken Emerson quotes Bacharach: And then she walks on by.

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But after offering to their mutual profit definitive versions of much of his work e. His work is also a racial hodgepodge of multiple influences and engagements.

meet the vamps documentary hypothesis

Classically trained — he studied with Darius Milhaud — deeply influenced by the jazz tradition — bebop was one of his first loves — and disciplined by the songwriting tradition of Tin Pan Alley and its successors — Bacharach began his career working in the famous popular music incubator the Brill Building, where he, Carole King, Johnny Mercer, and a host of others had offices — his music is double-edged: Its chord changes are rapid, complex, unexpected; so too are its rhythms.

No wonder avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn writes: Advanced harmonies and chord changes with unexpected turnarounds and modulations, unusual changing time signatures and rhythmic twists, often in uneven numbers of bars.

Maddeningly complex, sometimes deceptively simple, these are more than just great pop songs: Considered as an ethno-racial transaction, this relation is enormously complex.

Actresses as one of the Symbols of the Turkish Modernization Project The Function of Swooning in G. Female Stars and the Logic of Brand Names Gloria Swanson Goes to Triangle Silent Comediennes and the New Woman Concepts of Beauty and the Camera The Myth of the Mad Silent Star In her conclusion, this concept of cinematification is turned into the term of cinemelogratification, some- thing that she argues that the early female audiences actually had, but for which we as scholars are searching anew.

Rosanna Maule, finally, deals with a matter that kept reappearing during the conference: These three contributions, aiming at framing anew the question of how to write feminist film history, also serve as a kind of theo- retical introduction to the following thematic sections. The question of female authorship, perhaps the most classical question in the study of women and the silent screen, has often been assigned almost exclu- sively to the role of the director.

In the second section of this volume, Pio- neering authorships, Marcela Amaral deals with one of those classic pio- neers: Finally, two papers discuss a topic generally ignored within the history of early cinema, namely the inter—titles.

Anke Brouwers discusses Anita Loos as scriptwriter and author through inter—titles, whereas Sofia Bull deals with Alva Lundin and inter—titles as aesthetic device. Thus, the contributions to this section contain not only biographies, but also texts highly related to different contexts and questions of style. Their articles deal with melodramas——with focus on the particular question of how to create feelings and emotions through acting style and intertextual references to art.

Dominique Nasta and Muriel Andrin have gone one step further in actu- ally writing their contribution together. They deal with emotions——what they call fiction emotions and artefact emotions——the latter also containing an intertextual dimension. Sarah Keller——who is writing on one of the women pioneers, Germaine Dulac——also discusses an intertextual, or rather intermedial, phenomenon: The next section, National and Transnational Stardom, deals with national stars who have actually travelled transnationally, but also with cultural ideas that travel, thus contributing in another way to the idea of transnational star- dom even for national stars who may never have left their home country.

Both Cartier and Powrie discuss issues of blackness. This section also bridges over to the two following ones, with studies of personas and stars. In his contribution to this volume, Charlie Kiel puts stardom in a quite dif- ferent context than the usual ones, namely the logic of brand names and companies. His argument is that the movie company actually formed the star persona.

meet the vamps documentary hypothesis

Together, these articles describe the field of tension between star and com- pany; who actually forms what? Welsh also deals with the fact that Swanson initially started as a comedienne but after a while wanted to get more serious roles. Her problems in this case are well comparable to the former section about expectations and female stereotypes.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Love and Theft in the 21st Century - Los Angeles Review of Books

Kristen Anderson Wagner deals in her article with the relation between si- lent comediennes and new women——but from a slightly different perspective 17 than the ones evoked before. According to her, the most important aspect is how the actual historical audiences read those performers.

The last section of the book, on fashion and fandom, deals with representa- tions in fan magazines, in three of the cases specifically related to fashion.

Andrea Haller argues in her article that modernity has been an important parameter for the centrality of fashion in cinema studies. This is true even of the concept of physiognomy, another returning concept in this connection.

The articles deal with different national contexts: Andrea Haller as well as Mila Ganeva writes on Germany: Haller on fandom and Ganeva on a close relationship between fashion journalism and screenwriting. The articles also deal with certain myths connected to female stars in the silent era: The diversity of subjects in this volume also reveals both the complexity and the problems of the field of research that the Women and the Silent Screen Conferences represent.

Not only do they deal with well—known, concrete issues within feminist scholarship, such as pioneers or stars. But they also have to do with a more fundamental question: This clearly reveals that other horizons may be opened towards early cinema, where the form and function of the medium may no longer be sepa- rated from questions of gender, reality or spectatorship. Rather, the scope of research has to be broadened, even from a gender perspective, to contain the moving image in its entirety.

To quote Gaines again, finally: How should we conceptualize the relationship between a feminist— oriented historiographical work like the Women Film Pioneers project,76 and the recent theoretical perspectives such as those raised within the framework of gender studies?


The purpose of this paper is then to interrogate our practice of feminist historiography in light of recent gender criticism of traditional sexual categories. One major, but not exclusive purpose of the project is the production of a Sourcebook in two volumes, forthcoming.

Her critique of what she portrays as an allegedly monolithic, essentialist account of sexual difference offered by traditional feminist theory cannot be easily dis- missed, yet at the same time it would be unfair not to recognize the significant role this very concept of sexual difference has played in the elaboration and practice of queer theory itself.

In a way, the groundbreaking feminist gesture of claiming difference to claim parity has fuelled an uninterrupted process of gen- der differentiation that has ended up disrupting the original apparent integrity of just that collective subject who first identified itself through sexual difference.

meet the vamps documentary hypothesis

Racism, Sexism, Power, and Ideology London: Balland, ; English transl. The Straight Mind Boston: Black Women and Feminism Boston: Ethics, Power and Corporeality London: Race, Gender, and the Self New York: Oxford University Press, In the final part of this article, I will offer additional possibilities along these same lines.

To begin, however, I would like to focus on another important contribu- tion, emerging directly from the most classical tradition of feminist philoso- phy.

Pioniere del cinema italiano, edited by Monica Dall'Asta Bologna: Cineteca di Bologna,19— Gallimard, ; English transl. Critique of Dialectical Reason London: New Left Books, The series is structured by actions linked to practico—inert objects.

Social objects and their effects are the results of human action; they are practical. But as material they also constitute constraints on and resistances to action that make them experienced as inert. To be a woman, in other words——or a feminine subject in the properly Foucaultian sense of one who is sub- jected87——one does not need to recognize herself in any sort of abstract femi- nine nature, it suffices to be recognized as such from the outside, and be consequently subjected to a preconstituted set of socially defined rules and material conditions.

There is a unity to the series of women, but it is a pas- sive unity, one that does not arise from the individuals called women but rather positions them through the material organization of social relations as enabled and constrained by the structural relations of enforced heterosexual- ity and the sexual division of labor.

Yet there are at least a couple of important specifications. Secondly, the concept of seriality seems to encourage the adoption of a more distinc- tively historical approach. The milieu is the already—there set of material things and collectivized habits against the background of which any particular action occurs. The Birth of the Prison New York: So what are the advantages that a similar conception can offer to the method- ology of feminist film history?

In my view, its interest is twofold. On the one hand, by presenting seriality as a passive way to be part of a collective, the con- strictive aspects of gender are highlighted. In other words, if a major result of this re- search has been the discovery that the women working in the early film industry, in both creative and managerial roles, were many more than ever suspected, we still have to acknowledge that in many cases their non—actress filmographies remain very thin.

This seems to be particularly true with regard to the European context——albeit several relevant internal specifications are still to be described——and strongly suggests the need to understand the constrictive dimension of gender in geo- political terms.

For instance, if we certainly know how to deal with such figures as Alice Guy, Elvira Notari, or Germaine Dulac, that is to say with those women for whom the authorship argument has been repeatedly ad- vanced,93 the question emerges of how to deal with the much larger number of women filmmakers who, throughout their entire lives, were only able to direct, write, produce, distribute, and so on, not more that a handful of films, 91 Butler, Undoing Gender New York and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, Lost Visionary of the Cinema New York: Princeton University Press, Bean and Diane Negra Durham: Duke University Press,88— For instance, why were so many of them also actresses?

At least in the Italian context, the strong identification of women with actresses often implied a severe restric- tion, not just of their expressive possibilities, but even of their desires, as for instance in the series of women whose attempt to direct or produce films was basically motivated by the wish to transform themselves into divas——more than once, unfortunately, with miserable results.

Pi- oniere del cinema italiano, — In Italy, the only major exceptions to such condition are those of Francesca Bertini who played the lead first at the Celio and then at the Caesar film companies and Eleonora Duse whose sole, bitterly unsuccessful film was produced by Ambrosio.

What is specific to the concept of seriality is the way in which it allows us to detect collectives, there where we were accustomed to see just individuals. This does not mean to imply that collectives have to be the only focus of attention at the expense of individuals, but rather that individu- als are constantly seen in relation to a collective.