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“Would you like to sin with Elinor Glyn?": Film as a Vehicle of Sensual Education
Department of Film and Media, University of California, Berkeley, USA.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5158-3216
2010 (English)In: Camera Obscura. A Journal of Feminism and Film Theory, ISSN 0270-5346, E-ISSN 1529-1510, Vol. 25, no 2-74, 75-117 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The commercial success of Elinor Glyn's 1927 film It has obscured the fact that, throughout her career until this point, Glyn had promoted a significantly different sexual ideology. In a remarkable array of novels, plays, lectures, interviews, editorials, and advice manuals, Glyn had long promoted an idiosyncratic “philosophy of love.” This philosophy celebrated aristocratic manners, enhanced arousal through restricted physical contact, role plays of dominance and submission, and eugenic progress through racial hybridity. She emphasized women's physical and emotional satisfaction and criticized the institution of marriage and the “cheapening” of sexual relations under commodity capitalism. Glyn's works entered the spirited debates on sexual comportment that took place during the 1910s and 1920s alongside the works of progressive activists such as Lois Weber and Marie Stopes. While in Hollywood, she exploited the new possibilities of mass media—films, paperbacks, newspapers, and magazines—to simultaneously promote herself and her sexual agenda. Furthermore, she used her films to eroticize cinematic structures of spectatorship.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 25, no 2-74, 75-117 p.
Keyword [en]
film history, gender, sexuality, Elinor Glyn, sex education, sensuality, silent film, early Hollywood, Rudolph Valentino, Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Three Weeks
National Category
Studies on Film
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-99586DOI: 10.1215/02705346-2010-003OAI: diva2:687270
Available from: 2014-01-13 Created: 2014-01-13 Last updated: 2016-04-01Bibliographically approved

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Horak, Laura
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