Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.L.A.

Degree Granting Department

Humanities

Major Professor

Silvio Gaggi, Ph D.

Keywords

Feminism, Avant-garde, Gaze, Psychoanalysis, Film theory

Abstract

Germaine Dulac's 1928 avant-garde film, La Coquille et le Clergyman, based on a script written by Antonin Artaud, presents the idea of the woman as an object of desire, subjected to the male gaze through the cinematic process. Not only is the lone female character the object of desire of her two male suitors on screen, but she also becomes the object of desire for the presumably male viewer of the film, who has become a silent character in the film. Rather than simply being the spectator, the viewer's own identity becomes entwined with that of the on screen characters. While the idea of the woman as the object of desire subjected to the often male gaze in the cinema has been analyzed by many feminist film theorists, including Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman and Mary Ann Doane, the theories presented center on films directed either by male directors or female directors since the 1970's. Very little has been written about films directed by women in the 1920's, including La Coquille et le Clergyman. By examining Coquille et le Clergyman, I hope to fill in a gap in the discourse of the majority of feminist film theory. This thesis will not only attempt to understand how Germaine Dulac, an early feminist film director, approaches the idea of the female body as an object of desire subjected to the male gaze differently than her male film director counterparts, but will examine how the relationships between the female character and the two male characters differ from other male directed avant-garde films from the 1920's and how these relationships affect spectatorship. By examining La Coquille et le Clergyman, I hope to better understand how Dulac's cinematic interpretation of Artaud's script treats the idea of spectatorship, not only in 1928, but also today.

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