Cinema Studies Colloquium, Sharrona Pearl

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 12:00pm

Sharrona Pearl (Communications, University of Pennsylvania)

Blockbuster Freaks: Victorian Freaks and the Hollywood Happy Ending

Whose stories do we chose to tell, and when do we chose to tell them?  In this talk, I explore the stories (told and retold) of two of the most well-known Victorian human displays, Joseph Merrick and Sara Baartman.  Both Merrick (the "Elephant Man") and Baartman (the "Hottentot Venus") have been the subjects of numerous fictional interventions; their fame today may well outstrip the not inconsiderable recognition they achieved in their own time.  I ask why they, of all the Victorian freaks, have been immortalized in film, arguing that it was the ways in which their stories seem to have happy endings that made them so easily translate to the big screen, alleviating our guilt about looking and gawking through a narrative of redemption achieved by observation.

Cinema Studies Program
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall ⋅ 3340 Walnut Street ⋅ Philadelphia, PA 19104 ⋅ (215) 898-8782