National Cinema: Sex, Gender, and Desire in French Cinema
160 - 003 | CCN: 31729
This course approaches French cinema through the lens of three of its perennial themes: sex, gender, and desire. We will start by considering some of the ways iconic French stars have produced and reflected shifting gender ideals from the 1920s through to the present. We will consider how what film theorist Laura Mulvey calls the “male gaze” has traditionally shaped cinema aesthetics in France, and then look at how films by women and/or queer film-makers have in recent decades challenged sexual and gendered norms. More generally, we will ask: how have French and francophone film-makers translated desire, in all its variety, into cinematic form? How has the medium of cinema shaped cultural imaginaries of sex, gender, and desire throughout the 20th and 21st centuries? Please note: the course touches on topics of a potentially sensitive nature and includes some sexually explicit materials. Indeed, one of our questions is why sexual explicitness has come to play such an important role in French film aesthetics and politics in recent years, from Catherine Breillat’s Romance (1999) to Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle (2013) and Gaspar Noé’s controversial Love (2015). Alongside a weekly film screening, we will read works of theory and criticism by authors including Geneviève Sellier, Noël Burch, Ginette Vincendeau, and Roland Barthes. Please note the class will be taught in French. Consult instructor for French language prerequisites.