In light of the fact that the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference kicks off in Chicago next week, Signs is making available, for a limited period, several articles of interest to SCMS members, or to anyone with an interest in feminist scholarship on cinema, media, and popular culture. This collection of four articles demonstrates the depth and sophistication of scholarship on cinema and media published in Signs in recent years, treating transnational flows of images and capital, representations of the intersections of gender and racial difference, and the complexities of spectatorship. In addition to the freely available articles mentioned below, SCMS members may also want to check out the newest issue of Signs, which ends with several articles on gender in film, television, and popular culture–from postfeminist representations of Emma Bovary to masculinity in Super Bowl ads to new directions in hip-hop feminism.
- Shilyh Warren’s article “Recognition on the Surface of Madeline Anderson’s I Am Somebody,” published in the Winter 2013 issue of Signs, examines the documentary about a successful strike by black, female hospital workers in Charleston, South Carolina. Noting that realist documentaries are notoriously hard to read within the discipline of film studies, Warren offers a “surface reading” as a way of addressing three main themes: the political stakes of I Am Somebody, the legacy of its neglect by film scholars, and the conceptual possibilities opened up by its reconsideration.
- Leslie Bow’s “Transracial/Transgender: Analogies of Difference in Mai’s America” analyzes the documentary Mai’s America, which follows Mai, an exchange student from Hanoi, as she stays with black and white host families in the American South and forms a bond with a white drag queen. Bow uses the documentary as an occasion to meditate on the question, “What are the limits or rewards of drawing analogies between race and gender in the context of past and present forms of segregation, of drawing analogies of difference?”
- In “Visual Currencies: Documenting India’s Red-Light Districts,” Krista Lynes compares three works: Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski’s popular documentary Born into Brothels (2004) and the artist Elahe Massumi’s multichannel video installations The Hijras (2000) and A Kiss Is Not a Kiss (2000). The article examines how the question of scale addresses both the chains of responsibility and relationality that produce the red-light district’s activity and exploitation and the position of the intended audience, calling for charity, empathy, or accountability.
- And in “Pedagogy of Anxiety,” Katarzyna Marciniak offers an analysis of Mandy Jacobson and Karmen Jelinčić’s 1996 Calling the Ghosts: A Story about Rape, War, and Women, a testimonial documentary that reconstructs war events involving two women who grapple with representing their past in Prijedor after the Serbian takeover in 1992. Marciniak asks, “if, as these women painfully claim, the terrible ‘truth’ of rape and torture is hidden in the female body, if the violated body carries the truth inside, what does it mean for a filmic medium to engage itself in the process of excavation of such lived trauma?” and uses this question to open a wider pedagogical discussion about the ethics of teaching trauma texts.
Several Signs authors will be presenting at the SCMS conference (view the conference program here):
- Dorit Naaman, author of “Brides of Palestine/Angels of Death: Media, Gender, and Performance in the Case of the Palestinian Female Suicide Bombers” will be presenting “Inside/out: Projecting Memories of Home on the House” at Session E7.
- Aniko Imre, author of the 2007 Stimpson Prize–winning article “Lesbian Nationalism,” will be presenting her paper “Television Memories of Socialism” at Session G8.
- Shilyn Warren, author of the aforementioned “Recognition on the Surface of Madeline Anderson’s I Am Somebody,” will be presenting “Documentary Attunement and Earthly Crisis” in Session J17.
- Suzanne Leonard, author of “The Americanization of Emma Bovary: From Feminist Icon to Desperate Housewife,” will be presenting, with Diane Negra, “After Ever After: Bethenny Frankel, Self-Branding, and the ‘New Intimacy of Work’” at Session L20.
- Tania Modleski, author of “A Woman’s Gotta Do … What a Man’s Gotta Do? Cross-Dressing in the Western” and “The Disappearing Act: A Study of Harlequin Romances” will be presenting the paper “Mimetic Desire in I Love You, Man” at Session O16.
- Brenda Weber, author of “Masculinity, American Modernity, and Body Modification: A Feminist Reading of American Eunuchs,“ will be presenting her paper “Oprah-topia: Neoliberalism, Globalization, and Identity on the Oprah Winfrey Network” at Session O18.