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Session 21: New Historiographies: The Role of Women

Paper 1 - Film and feminist network in the thirties through María Luz Morales’ work. Ainamar Clariana Rodagut (UOC, Open University of Catalonia)

Film and feminist network in the thirties through María Luz Morales’ work” María Luz Morales (La Coruña 1989- Barcelona 1980) was the first Spanish woman who worked as a cultural journalist. She worked for the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, and other newspapers such as El Sol or Diario de Barcelona, and for journals, such as Moda y Hogar and the Paramount Pictures Spanish journal. She was committed to female education, so she was also part of the Residencia de Señoritas project in Barcelona at the beginning of the thirties. She was also an outstanding member of one of the first film clubs that emerged in Barcelona, the Barcelona Film Club (1929-1930). Within this general context, this paper advances the hypothesis that during the first years of the twentieth century Spanish women had an active role in the emergence of a transnational film culture through their local, national and transnational relations and their participation in spaces historically considered masculine, such as film clubs or film critics. In that respect, this paper aims at analysing how a network is built through the figure of María Luz Morales. The network will be retraced through María Luz Morales’ relations with all type of actors (institutions, persons, objects, places) in the local, national and transnational cinema field. I will complete this network attending her work on the Residencia de Señoritas and the relation the women who were part of the institution, and the institution itself, had with all type of cultural actors in the local, national and transnational arena. Therefore, focusing on María Luz Morale’s publications and personal archive we will be able to represent her role as a cultural mediator, who locates herself were women had presence in the blossoming of a local and probably transnational film culture during the thirties.

Cabré, María Ángeles. 2017. María Luz Morales, Pionera Del Periodismo. Barcelona: La Vanguardia Ediciones. Iriye, Akira, and Pierre-Yves Saunier, eds. 2009. The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History. Palgrave Macmillan. Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social : An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Reassembling the Social : An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. New York: Oxford University Press. Roig-Sanz, Diana, and Reine Meylaerts, eds. 2018. Literary Translation and Cultural Mediators in ‘Peripheral’ Cultures. Literary Translation and Cultural Mediators in ‘Peripheral’ Cultures. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78114-3.

Ainamar Clariana holds a PhD in Humanities from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (2012-2017) on theory and aesthetics of arts. She is now a research member of the ERC StG project ‘Social Networks of the Past.” Her research focuses on cultural mediators and Iberoamerican film clubs between 1923 and 1963.

Paper 2 - Victoria Duckett, Deakin University, French actresses and the formation of transnational film.

The French stage actress in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was a global celebrity who pioneered a reciprocal, visible and above all productive relationship between the Arts and technological development. She did this in Paris, in one of the leading centers of cultural production and technological experimentation in the world. Working in and from this city, Sarah Bernhardt, Gabrielle Réjane (Gabrielle Charlotte Réju), and Mistinguett (Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois) achieved international fame and visibility. They forged a collective renown that women–and certainly a generation of actresses on the live stage–had never previously claimed. Celebrated as performers they were also respected as theatrical managers, social commentators, risk-takers and fashion icons. Together, these pioneers developed and then maintained the status of France as a centrifugal culture of global importance between the years that define the Belle Époque (roughly 1880 through to the start of the First World War). Drawing large international audiences, they circulated in photographs, prints, newspaper sketches, journals, caricatures and (eventually) on postcards, phonographs and film. This presentation argues that these actresses were not just stage performers bringing plays to life, publicly recognisable and associated with a given theatre and in a specific theatrical role. They were flashpoints to the formation of modern cinematic culture. Their capacity to be adapted across a range of interrelated media by new generations and publics helped ensure French visibility in world markets. I will demonstrate that it was their pioneering work in media industries that helped them secure visibility in the period leading into the First World War, not only in France but in the United Kingdom and the United States. It is within the context of this triangulation, where the Old and the New World are joined in reciprocal exchange and growth, that we can begin to fathom the importance of the French actress to the cultural formation of film.

Richard Abel, The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900-1910, UCP, 1999.

Sharon Marcus, The Drama of Celebrity, Princeton, 2019.

Stéphanie Salmon, Pathé: A la conquête du cinéma (1896-1929), Tallandier, 2014.

John Stokes, The French Actress and Her English Audience, Cambridge, 2005.

Victoria Duckett is Senior Lecturer in Screen and Design at Deakin University, Melbourne. She has published extensively on film performance, archives and early film. She is currently working on a monograph that explores the intersection between French stage actresses, global celebrity culture, and early film.

Paper 3 - Jessica Whitehead, University of Toronto, Show-womanship of Female Movie Magazine Editors, 1914-1931.

This paper recovers the largely undocumented yet prevalent place of women in the movie magazine industry serving as editors and publishers for at least brief periods in more than 20 different silent-era publications. Although some women editors have been featured in the Women Film Pioneers Project, the role of women in the movie magazine industry has not yet been cast as part of the question of What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries? (Gaines 2018). The history of female writers and editors of film trade papers and other movie magazines is part of the larger labour history of women in early Hollywood (Kenaga 2006, McKenna 2011), but the phenomenon also has a foundation in the earlier role women forged as high-profile journalists. Sensationalism in the ‘new journalism’ was tied to women journalists’ undercover stunts and women reporters played a central role in the establishment of the popular press as an agent of progressive reform; they rose to fame muckraking against the plight of unfairly maligned, stigmatized and poverty-stricken women. The later castigation of ‘yellow journalism’ in favour of balanced objectivity shunted women’s bylines off the front pages and onto distinctly gendered banners of women’s pages, fashion sections, and the new gossip of movie fan columns (Abel 2013). Likewise, many women who worked in the movie magazine industry had sensationalized personas and and even fought for progressive reforms. This presentation will detail my research into women editing movie magazines worldwide. Using the database of the Media History Digital Library, I reviewed all movie magazine mastheads from 1929 to 1931 for female editors. In addition, I surveyed all the magazines in the Global Cinema Collection as well as consulting with secondary source material. My research demonstrates that women played a large role in the production and craft of movie magazines globally, with female editors in India, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A notable feature of many of these women is that female editors like Delight Evans and Ray Lewis made their personal lives fodder in the pages of their magazines, becoming celebrities in their own right. In a sense, female movie magazine editors cultivated a clear type of show-womanship that helped to sell their magazines through their distinctive personas in order to attract an avid fan base.

Abel, R. 2013. “Newspaperwomen and the Movies in the USA, 1914-1925,” in Gaines, J., Vatsal, R., and Dall’Asta, M. (eds) Women Film Pioneers Project. New York: Columbia University Libraries. Online at wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu.

Gaines, J. 2018. Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries? University of Illinois Press.

Kenaga, H. 2006. Making the’ Studio Girl’: The Hollywood Studio Club and Industry Regulation of Female Labour, Film History: An International Journal, 18(2): 129-139.

McKenna, D. 2011. The photoplay or the pickaxe: extras, gender, and labour in early Hollywood, Film History: An International Journal, 23(1): 5-19.

Dr. Jessica Leonora Whitehead holds a PhD from York University and is an Arts & Science Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto. Her her current project recounts the history of Italian-Canadian film exhibition and distribution in post war Toronto. She has published articles in Transformative Works and Cultures, Italian Canadiana, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, TMG: Journal for Media History and chapters in the books Rural Cinema Exhibition, Mapping Movie Magazines, and Italian Americans On Screen.

Paper 4 - Yanping Guo, South China Normal University, Female Projectionists on the Move: Women’s Experiences of Operating Filmic Technologies in Rural China (1949—1958).

Wang, Lingzhen. “Wang Ping and Women’s Cinema in Socialist China: Institutional Practice, Feminist Cultures, and Embedded Authorship.” Signs, 40.3 (2015): 589-622.

Hershatter, Gail. “Local meanings of gender and work in rural Shaanxi in the 1950s.” in Re-drawing Boundaries: Work, Household, and Gender in China Eds B Entwisle, GE Henderson (University of California Press, Berkeley, CA) pp(2000): 79-96.

Chen, Tina Mai. “Female icons, feminist iconography? Socialist rhetoric and women’s agency in 1950s China.” Gender & History 15.2 (2003): 268-295.

I am now a research associate at South China Normal University. I studied in the department of cultural studies of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and received my doctorate degree in 2017. My research interest is media history and socialist China.

Paper 5 - Peter Labuza, University of Southern California, Ida Lupino, The Exhibitor Guarantee Plan, and How Exploitation Movies Trumped Her Art.

When Warner Bros. star Ida Lupino felt frustrated playing roles that Bette Davis refused, she did what many of her colleagues did: she formed an independent film company. Through the late 1940s and early 1950s, Lupino was the sole female director in Hollywood, writing and directing a number of features Her company, The Filmakers, tackled issues such as pregnancy, rape, and bigamy.

But then Lupino and her company went ever further. To avoid studio interference, she joined forces with Irving Levin to form a distribution company and bring films to directly to audiences. They financed their pictures by pitching directly to exhibitors, asking for pre-production funds in addition to the usual percentages. The “Exhibitor Guarantee Plan” aimed to provide a new model for both theaters and filmmakers aiming to give audiences the pictures that studios were afraid to make but audiences craved. And yet this model did not provide a revolution for artistically minded pictures as Lupino hoped, but instead became a model for low budget exploitation features instead. While Lupino has claimed The Filmakers went bankrupt, the historical record suggests she left at the height of its financial power. I thus interrogate how the needs of a distribution company ultimately failed the director’s social impulses of filmmaking.

This paper deepens recent explorations of actor and director Ida Lupino by examining her films in their distribution context. While recent biographical work has traced her as an auteur, this paper questions how her distribution model framed her work at her time. Using contemporary management theory and internal documents revealed in Filmakers Releasing Organ v. Realart Pictures (1964), this paper traces how The Filmakers distribution model aimed to disrupt Hollywood and why it failed to serve Lupino’s vision.

Filmakers Releasing Organ v. Realart Pictures, 374 S.W.2d 535 (Mo. Ct. App. 1964), Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, MO.

James D. Grant, and Albert J. Mills. “The Quiet Americans: Formative Context, the Academy of Management Leadership, and the Management Textbook, 1936–1960.” Management & Organizational History 1, no. 2 (2006): 201-24.

Therese Grisham and Julie Grossman. Ida Lupino, Director: Her Art and Resilience in Times of Transition. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2017.

Kevin Heffernan, Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1953-1968. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Peter Labuza is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Southern California. He has previously published in The Velvet Light Trap, Mediascape, Film Quarterly, Sight & Sound, and has a forthcoming article in the Journal for Cinema and Media Studies. He hosts The Cinephiliacs podcast.