Laura Mulvey is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. After studying history at St. Hilda’s, Oxford University, she came to prominence in the early 1970s as a film theorist, writing for periodicals such as Spare Rib and Seven Days. Much of her early critical work investigated questions of spectatorial identification and its relationship to the male gaze, and her writings, particularly the 1975 essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, helped establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study.
1.05pm: Laura Mulvey Lecture
‘Remixing Hollywood movies of the 1950s: from textual analysis to digital Spectatorship’.
In my 2006 book, Death 24 Times a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image, I suggested that digital technology had transformed film spectatorship: its interactive possibilities seemed to make the previously restricted critical practice of textual analysis available to every film fan. But digital editing takes these possibilities further. While the textual analyst selects a particular film sequence for repeated viewing, discovering meanings that are not visible at 24 frames a second, the remixer detaches a sequence from its place in its original narrative sequence. As my own modes of spectatorship have evolved with new technological possibilities, I have found myself returning to Hollywood films, particularly of the 1950s. I would like to discuss this backwards trajectory and present the remixes that have emerged along the way.
Riddles of the Sphinx
The most influential of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s collaborative films, Riddles of the Sphinx (1977), presented avant-garde film as a space in which female experience could be expressed. Drawing on psychoanalytical theories and the contemporary politics of representation, the film explores the nature of patriarchy and how women have been objectified by mainstream narrative cinema. Formally experimental and socially committed, Riddles of the Sphinx subverts familiar cinematic codes and conventions to encourage an alternative relationship between spectator and female subject.
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with Laura Mulvey.