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Corporeality and Female Modernity: Intermediality and Early Film Celebrities
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2018 (English)In: The Image in Early Cinema: Form and Material / [ed] Scott Curtis, Philippe Gauthier, Tom Gunning, Joshua Yumibe, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018, p. 174-184Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

As Victorianism lost its grip and industrialism entered a new phase, gender roles and the expressions of femininity became malleable and negotiable. Women’s new independence and mobility in modern society, particularly in the large cities, ushered in a “female modernity” underpinned by the relaxing of dress codes with a sporty look mirroring a general reconfiguring of women’s range of physical options. In the process, the New Woman became an entry in the cultural lexicon.

The purpose of this article is to explore the female body as a key site for inscribing and performing modernity across media during the first 15 years of the 20th century. The cultural conception of this modern type of femininity, characterized by independence, resourcefulness—and exploitation as the flipside—found its template in the female film stars and their physical wherewithal and abilities at large, especially in the serial films. Outside cinema, the desirable stars were marketed in newspapers, trade papers, women’s magazines, and ads, even in autobiographical works. The intense mediatisation of the life styles and panache embodied by these women on and off screen blended into a complex and iconic cocktail of modern femininity, attractive for some, shocking for others. In the early 1910s, a radical change can be observed concerning the concept of female celebrities at large across many fields of endeavor with cinema driving the process by repurposing images across media formats such as postcards, advertisements, and printed illustrations.

The key issues of this article are: To analyze screen-action heroine Pearl White and Annette Kellerman, an Australian professional swimmer turned vaudeville and film star in the US, as two comparative career case studies. The discourses around their achievements and celebrity will be discussed from advertisements, news and trade press articles, photographic collectibles, and a phalanx of promotional materials forming rounded career stories around two emblematic New Women; To investigate female film stars in relation to discursive negotiations of social mobility, independence, gender roles, and corporeal ideals across media.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018. p. 174-184
Series
Early Cinema in Review: Proceedings of Domitor ; 1
Keywords [en]
Celebrities, Early film, Pearl White, Corporeality
National Category
Studies on Film
Research subject
Cinema Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-156407ISBN: 9780253034397 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-156407DiVA, id: diva2:1206557
Available from: 2018-05-17 Created: 2018-05-17 Last updated: 2018-05-17Bibliographically approved

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