Laura Mulvey: The Purposes of Love

The Purposes of Love

Romance in Two British Films of the Late Silent Period

Lecture by Laura Mulvey

Introduction by Professor Miriam Hansen, Department of Cinema and Media Studies

Thursday, April 8, 2010, 4:30pm

Film Studies Center, Cobb Hall

Laura Mulvey’s lecture will draw upon two British films from the very end of the silent era to reflect on differing representations of femininity and class.   Both are about transgressive love and a modernity that enables their female protagonists to cross, if only temporarily, traditional British class boundaries. But while Hindle Wakes, set in a Northern industrial milieu and adapted from Stanley Houghton’s Ibsen inspired play, remains within a realist register, Piccadilly, scripted by Arnold Bennett and devised as a vehicle for Anna May Wong, depends on melodrama to deal with an affair that is inter-racial as well as trans-class.

Laura Mulvey is the 2010 Schaffner Visiting Professor in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and a celebrated scholar who has stimulated debate in academe and the art world for more than 30 years. 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.

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