Frances Hatherley (Middlesex) presents “An Unseen Portrait of a Female Grotesque: Carol Morley’s ‘The Alcohol Years (2000)'”

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“I will explore the ways in which working-class femininities and sexualities have been negatively constructed as “grotesque”. Carol Morley’s film explores her teenage years and experimentation with sex, drinking and participation in the music scene in the Manchester of the late 1980s. I argue that her representation in the film both conforms to and challenges the classist and misogynistic constructions of a working-class female grotesque. The image of the female grotesque in the film is one that is unseen: the representation comes solely from the oral recollections of friends and acquaintances of Morley’s who knew her during her teenage years in Manchester during that period. The descriptions given of her by others, who themselves are often unreliable narrators, create a portrait of a young female grotesque – a woman who rejected modest, lady-like, respectable behaviour in favour of the excessive, uncontrollable and carnivalesque.

This talk also considers the experiences of growing up a working-class girl, of rebellion in the form of music, clothing and sexuality as an outlet for expression and self-determination. I will also introduce a discussion of space and place, of the experience of growing up on council estates and their potential for adventure. I will counter accusations of deviant misbehaviour by instead arguing that much of the behaviour Morley is judged so harshly for, constitutes positive forms of knowledge gathering and limits-testing, all vital aspect of growing up.”

Thursday, 13 April, 5:15pm, ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema (G19).

Refreshments to follow.

ALL WELCOME

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Lisa Duffy presents “Interacting with ‘Flaming Trails of Masculinity’: Female Sexual Awakening in Classical Hollywood Dream Ballets”

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Dream ballets, a fantasy trope which permeated classical Hollywood musicals during the post-war years, permit characters to explore a metaphorical erotic freedom, which enhances their ability to investigate and ultimately obtain their desires. Emotions and sexuality are coded into the movement of the dancers’ bodies, causing dance to function much in the same way dreams do by presenting themes in an abstract manner. The content of these sequences is sharply divided down gender lines—while the dreams of men allow them to identify and pursue their true desire, the dreams of women focus on their sexual awakening. It is this latter group that this paper will explore, examining the dream ballets found in Oklahoma! (1955), Lili (1953), and The Pirate (1948). Each of these sequences unfold from the anxieties of the dreamer and centre on interacting with a dark, fearsome portrayal of masculinity. The dream space provides a safe place for the characters to explore a more transgressive side of sexuality, permitting them to act on subversive desires which would lead to ostracisation if carried out in their diegetic realities. By processing their sexual awakenings in the realm of dream ballets, the women are prepared to be romantically paired off in the waking world.

Wednesday, 14 December, 5:15 pm. ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema (G19).

To be followed by drinks and holiday merriment.

ALL WELCOME.

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An Unseen Portrait of a Female Grotesque: Carol Morley’s The Alcohol Years (2000)

Update: This event has now been cancelled.

frances-hatherley-poster

“I will explore the ways in which working-class femininities and sexualities have been negatively constructed as “grotesque”. Carol Morley’s film explores her teenage years and experimentation with sex, drinking and participation in the music scene in the Manchester of the late 1980s. I argue that her representation in the film both conforms to and challenges the classist and misogynistic constructions of a working-class female grotesque. The image of the female grotesque in the film is one that is unseen: the representation comes solely from the oral recollections of friends and acquaintances of Morley’s who knew her during her teenage years in Manchester during that period. The descriptions given of her by others, who themselves are often unreliable narrators, create a portrait of a young female grotesque – a woman who rejected modest, lady-like, respectable behaviour in favour of the excessive, uncontrollable and carnivalesque.

This talk also considers the experiences of growing up a working-class girl, of rebellion in the form of music, clothing and sexuality as an outlet for expression and self-determination. I will also introduce a discussion of space and place, of the experience of growing up on council estates and their potential for adventure. I will counter accusations of deviant misbehaviour by instead arguing that much of the behaviour Morley is judged so harshly for, constitutes positive forms of knowledge gathering and limits-testing, all vital aspect of growing up.” — Frances Hatherley, Middlesex University

Wednesday, 16 November, 5:15 pm. ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema (G19).

Refreshments to follow.

ALL WELCOME.

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Marion Hallet (KCL) presents ‘Living a fairy tale: Romy Schneider and cultural memory in post-war Europe’

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Romy Schneider’s romantic persona constructed through iconic ‘princess’ characters – young Queen Victoria in Victoria in Dover (Ernst Marischka, 1954), and Empress Elizabeth of Austria in the Sissi trilogy (Marischka, 1955-56-57), shows the enduring popularity of fairy tale narratives among German-speaking audiences in the post-war period. What does that particular star image, constructed through her films and her private life, tells us about 1950s Germany and Austria, then engaged in a process of national and cultural identity reconstruction? I will argue that Schneider’s princess star image (encased in romantic costume film) is complexly articulated on a national popular interest in royalty, especially the princess myths linked to Germany’s literary tradition of fairy tale, but also on the young star’s life off-camera echoing the romantic narratives and characters she was playing on screen. Drawing upon work by Jack Zipes (1986), Erica Carter (1997, 2010) and Maria Fritsche (2013), I will examine how Schneider reinstates the fairy tale princess as an important national figure, and speaks to the cultural memory of the era within a complex discourse linked to German romanticism and conceptions of femininity in Germanic nations.

Thursday, 13 October, 5:15 pm. ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema (G19).

Refreshments to follow.

ALL WELCOME.

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Adam Plummer presents ‘Psychoanalysis and popular British cinema: The British trauma film’

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This paper focuses on how popular British cinema in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War comes to be influenced and transformed by the psychoanalytic discourses that circulate at this time.

Using the example of the Ealing Studios production Dead of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, 1945), I consider how certain elements of British cinema come to display distinctive forms of representation and narration. I look particularly at how this film seems preoccupied with the distressed internal object worlds of its characters, with the blurring of lines between objectivity and subjectivity and between reality and fantasy, and with the precariousness of human existence.

Thursday 29 September, 5:15 pm. ArtsOne, Hitchcock Theatre (G19).

Refreshments to follow.

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Maren Thom presents ‘The Transgressive Nature of Chris Morris’ Satire in the post-political’

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Wednesday 30th March, 5:15pm. Arts One, Room G34.

This paper addresses the way comedy works as a method to transgress what Slavoj Žižek describes as the post-political; that is the current state of denial of alternatives within global politics and a directionlessness within cultural theory, which set in after the apparent defeat of the possibility of a radical alternative to capitalism.

For comedy to be truly transgressive Marcus Pound says it requires ‘a politics of the impossible’: By highlighting a world of unreason, rather than condemning it outright, humour arises from the experience of this world of unreason. For this to happen, in Pound’s understanding, transgressive comedy has to approach its subject not on a material but on metaphysical level; not point out the inconsistencies of concrete claims of truth and expose them to ridicule, but to assume their universalist truth and revelling in the contradiction between their idealist form and materialists execution. Referring to the work on comedy by Alenka Zupančič, Pound says, the transgressive comic mode is not found, ‘in the usual materialist critique of idealism; but the very point at which the ideal appears directly as the material, and it is this paradox – this incongruity – which generates the truly subversive comic mode of comedy.’ In short, comedy has the ability to tap into the subtle questions of the human condition concerned with how it is rather than pointing out the way things are. This paper presumes that, by looking at the way Morris’ satire can be used as a way to transcend the stalemate of the post-political. Most of Morris’ comedy works in this fashion, in that his satire does not aim at exposing the materialist discrepancies of society, but accepts these incongruities and takes them as the basis to ridicule their very existence – what the audience is alienated from is not the absurdity of concrete claims but the fact that the mundane is also part of this very absurdity.

 

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Victoria Grace Walden presents ‘Holocaust Animation: Textural Confrontations with a Difficult Past’

 

Holocaust animation

The Holocaust and animation may seem in tension with one another. The Holocaust was one of the most devastating events in Twentieth-Century European history, while animation is usually associated with childhood fun and fantasy. However, there are an increasing number of animations that confront the Holocaust. Surprisingly, very little has been written about these works. Considering the rhetoric about appropriate Holocaust representation, it seems peculiar that these animations have been mostly ignored by the academic community and yet the format has been adopted by several stakeholders in Holocaust commemoration and education such as the Anne Frank Trust, UK and Yad Vashem, Israel without debate (considering that the format seems so in tension with the subject matter).

There is more to films that confront the Holocaust than questions of appropriateness. The representational values that approaches concerned with this issue take as their foci, underplay the significance of medium specificity. In this presentation I will focus on the material specificity of animations that confront this difficult past. The Holocaust can be considered a difficult past in many ways: in relation to survivor trauma, familiar and affiliative postmemory and the integration of the Holocaust into national or ideological narratives. Adopting a phenomenological model, I claim that the presence of the animated body – its particular expression of intentionality – draws attention to specific issues related to these different scenarios. I will discuss a variety of animated works produced by a survivor, with survivors, contemporary younger generations and nations that might at first seem particularly distant from the Holocaust. In acknowledging the presence of the animated body, I argue that these Holocaust animations not only attempt to re-present this past in their diegeses, but also draw attention to specific difficulties related to confronting the Holocaust through their material engagements with this past.

5.15pm, Wednesday 16th December, Arts One G34, to be followed by Christmas drinks

ALL WELCOME

 

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