Talk | Laura Mulvey

Monday, November 7, 2016 - 6:00pm

Laura Mulvey

The Hidden from History: A lecture on the relationship between compilation film and feminist film aesthetics

The program will feature a lecture by film scholar Laura Mulvey entitled "Gleaning detournement and the compilation film," preceded by a screening of Alina Marazzi's film Un'ora sola ti vorrei (55 minutes, 2002) at 4:30pm.

Mulvey will relate the compilation, or found footage, film to questions raised by feminist history and its modes of narration. During the 1960s, traditional history was challenged by the concept of 'history from below and feminism inspired an attempt to write, in Sheila Rowbotham's term, 'the hidden from history.' The past was documented through interviews, the collection of letters, diaries and so on, recording the neglected, marginal areas of female life and experiences of oppression traditionally considered unworthy of formal recording. Rather than coherent, smooth narratives these texts tend to be heterogeneous, attempting to preserve women's voices from the past in their fragments.

Mulvey will discuss the similarities between this collecting process and the compilation film using Alina Marazzi's film Un'ora sola ti vorrei (To Have Just an Hour with You, Italy, 2002) to reflect on these aesthetic and political questions. In fact, the film's subject matter brings it directly into dialogue with issues at the heart of feminist history as it reclaims silences and informal cultures. That is to say, the dilemmas, difficulties and pain that women so frequently encounter in their family relations and particularly those associated with motherhood.

Mulvey uses the idea of 'gleaning' to reflect on the process of collecting, accumulating, sifting through and 'recycling' pre-existing materials; and the term 'detournement' evokes the way that certain compilation films give their found material meanings that are directly and self-consciously antagonistic to the original. At the heart of Mulvey's lecture is a commentary on Un'ora sola ti vorrei, in which Alina Marazzi reconstructs the life of her mother, Luisa Hoepli/Marazzi, from childhood, adolescence and then to motherhood and its attendant crises. The film documents Luisa's life, most particularly through her father's home movies but also through her letters, diaries and other materials. The lecture ends with some theoretical speculation on this layering of time in the compilation film, the interweaving of discourses in its narrative form and its relevance for a feminist history.

Laura Mulvey is a British feminist film theorist and currently professor of film and media studies at Birkbeck, University of London. Previously, she worked at the British Film Institute. Mulvey came to prominence in the early 1970s for critical work investigating questions of spectatorial identification and its relationship to the male gaze. This writing, particularly the 1975 essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," helped establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study. Between 1974 and 1982 Mulvey co-wrote and co-directed with her husband, Peter Wollen, six projects in the form of theoretical films, dealing in the discourse of feminist theory, semiotics, psychoanalysis and leftist politics. The first of these, Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974) explored concerns central to Mulvey's writings: the position of women in relation to patriarchal myth, symbolic language and male fantasy.

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Sponsored by Slought, Temple University Department of Film and Media Arts, and Penn Cinema and Media Studies.

Cinema Studies Program
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