Year of Study in Programme: First
Supervisor: Dr Sara Martín
Area/Topic of Research: Contemporary Women’s Literature & Cinema
Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: In Search of the Female Gaze: The Evolving Possibilities of Post-Feminist Aesthetics in Contemporary Film and Literature
Short Abstract: Taking my cue from Jean Paul Sartre’s conception of ‘le regard’ or ‘the gaze’ in Being and Nothingness (1943) and feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey’s evolution of this phenomenon to define the male gaze in Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975), I intend to explore the parameters of the female gaze in a post-feminist epoch. A term which has garnered increasing popularity and critical attention, the female gaze – which at its core represents an interest between the creator of a text, the text’s subject and its audience – has become a lynchpin of contemporary feminist theory, particularly film theory, and speaks to the way in which females, in texts they author, can respond to the inherently objectifying gaze of men. However, I seek to explore how the female gaze has developed more recently, in a post-feminist and aesthetically obsessed age. Whilst acknowledging its roots, roots which are clearly evident in many contemporary texts, I plan to move beyond strict ideas of hegemony and scopophilia to consider in a new light what it means to see as a female artist and what that sight looks like. That is, I want to understand how the female gaze in contemporary texts can be understood as an aesthetic vision, or a smorgasbord of diverse aesthetic visions, that offer new ways of seeing the female self, gender, society and art itself. Whilst this terminology of gaze has become one used dominantly in discussion of cinema and visual mediums, I believe that it also works as a suitable catchall term which similarly encompasses the sense of voice, and the imagery expressed in any written text and thus will be studying both contemporary film and literature by female composers.