GenSex: Gender and Sexuality Research Group

5th Oct 2009, 6:15pm - 8:30pm

Edge Hill University

GenSex – Edge Hill University’s Gender and Sexuality Research Group – is holding its first session of the new academic year on Cinema, Comics, Literature and Gender on Monday 5th October 2009, from 6:15pm-8:30pm in room M42, in the Main Building at the Ormskirk Campus.

 ‘Fear and Loathing (and Admiration): The Ambiguities of the Dominatrix in Comics’

By Dr Jenny Barrett, Programme Leader for Film Studies, Department of English and History, Edge Hill University.

This paper explores the representation of the dominatrix in a recent American comic, Dominatrix (2007-08), which tells the story of a woman forced by circumstances to take on the role of the dominant, dangerous female hero.  It identifies the levels of transgression found in her as perverted figure and gender transgressor, overtly existing on a border between sex object and active subject.  Alongside approaches to tough action heroines from Sherrie A. Inness  and Jeffrey A. Brown,  she is revealed as a problematic and tragic figure, cursed to take on this masquerade, one that serves to both celebrate dominant female subjectivity and fix woman as submissive, fetishised object.

Jenny Barrett is the Programme Leader for Film Studies at Edge Hill University, and her research interests include historical film, race representations, American national identity in the cinema, gender and sexuality.

 ‘Following the Flood’: Deluge (Sydney Fowler Wright, 1927 / Felix E. Fiest, 1933), Adaptation and the ‘Ideal’ Woman

By Jennifer Woodward, Lecturer in Film Studies, Department. of English and History, Edge Hill University.

Subtextually, the British disaster tradition embodies a number of complex wish fulfilment fantasies based primarily around narratives of destruction and rebirth. Sydney Fowler Wright’s 1927 disaster novel Deluge is no exception. The text is an overt wish fulfilment fantasy regarding the aggressive reassertion of patriarchy in a post deluge society. 

This paper examines Deluge’s cinematic adaptation. Beginning with a consideration of the text’s socio-cultural context (including the contemporary tensions that existed between feminism and patriarchy in the 1920s) and its representations of women, it focuses on Deluge’s critical reception in America, before analysing the representation of women in the film. Hence, the paper charts the movement from the representation of ‘ideal women’ in the novel (strong heroines who desire enforced submission to patriarchy) to the ‘ideal women’ on-screen as constructs of, and for, the ‘male gaze’.

Jenni Woodward is a lecturer in Film Studies at Edge Hill University. She has a Masters degree in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool and she is currently writing her PhD on British Disaster Science Fiction literature 1898-1945. Jennifer’s teaching specialisms include genre fiction and Japanese Cinema. Her published output covers work on psychoanalytic theory and adaptation studies, as well as Science Fiction film, television and literature.

 ‘A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing? The Representation of Women in 1980s Sword and Sorcery Cinema’ by Dr Andrea Wright, Lecturer in Film Studies, Dept. of English and History, Edge Hill University.

The muscled heroine present in the sword and sorcery cinema of the 1980s is, like her male counterpart, a problematic figure. Masculinity is reinforced by muscularity, yet the body on display serves to interrogate the traditional notion that the body as spectacle is equated with passivity and the feminine. The muscled heroine in action cinema invites similar scrutiny, in that she contains equivalent contradictions.

This paper will focus on 1980s sword and sorcery cinema, in particular Conan the Destroyer (1984) and Red Sonja (1985) as examples of narratives where women are seemingly elevated from subsidiary roles to action heroines, to explore Brown’s claim that a female in an action role is simply a “sheep in wolf’s clothing”. 

Andrea Wright is a lecturer in Film Studies at Edge Hill University. The focus of her doctoral thesis was gender, representation and the appeal of 1980s screen fairytales. Fantasy/fairytale cinema, particularly aesthetics, costume, set design and location are central to her current research.

‘”That’s like kissing a sword-blade”: Jirel of Joiry, C. L. Moore and the Origins of Feminist Sword and Sorcery’

By Dr Peter Wright, Reader in Speculative Fictions, Dept. of English and History, Edge Hill University.

Although a keen reader of Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Moore displaced the violent action centralised by her male contemporaries in favour of psychological depth.  The consequence of this displacement was a consistent emphasis on Jirel’s emotional strength and erotic identity that functioned in concert with her military skills.  Accordingly, the Jirel stories offer an early example of a female writer subverting a popular literary form for feminist purposes, an activity uncommon in American pulp writing of the 1930s.  As such, they establish a model for the more avowedly feminist sword and sorcery that followed second wave feminism.

This paper offers a preliminary reading of the feminist and erotic aspects of Moore’s first Jirel stories, ‘Black God’s Kiss’ and ‘Black God’s Shadow’ (both 1934).

Peter Wright is a Reader in Speculative Fictions and author of Attending Daedalus: Gene Wolfe, Artifice and the Reader’. He has published on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Sapphire and Steel’. He is the editor of Shadows of the New Sun: Wolfe on Writing/Writers on Wolfe and British Science Fiction Television.  Peter is currently editing When Worlds Collide: The Critical Companion to Science Fiction Film Adaptations.

Would you like to give a paper to GenSex or lead us in a workshop or seminar?  Interdisciplinary research-based debates, presentations and art installations are always welcome.  Topics can include… masculinities, feminisms, gender theories, queer studies, sexuality and subversion, bodily narratives and transgendered identities…just contact edwardsm@edgehill.ac.uk.