Herstory: Feminist Theory and Resistance in Art & Cinema

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the largest single day protest in US history—the Women’s March—when on January 21, 2017, 4.2 million people marched across the US in more than 600 US cities, and from Antarctica to Zimbabwe, at least 261 more sister marches cropped up worldwide. To celebrate this pivotal protest, UC Press is highlighting titles across subjects as part of our Herstory series, with today’s focus on Feminist Theory and Resistance in Art & Cinema. While just a preview of our publishing “herstory,” these titles will engage your intellect and inspire your activism today, tomorrow, and for future tomorrows.


Agnès Varda between Film, Photography, and Art by Rebecca J. DeRoo

The only female director of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda was one of four honorary Oscar winners in 2017 (again, the only woman.) With a cinematic career spanning more than six decades, Varda has experimented with all forms of filmmaking and is not only a prolific director but an accomplished photographer and artist. Her films, photographs, and art installations all focus on feminist issues and social commentary with a distinctive nonconventional and experimental style. Rebecca J. DeRoo demonstrates how Varda draws upon the histories of art, photography, and film to complicate the overt narratives in her works and to advance contemporary cultural politics.

Radical Eroticism: Women, Art, and Sex in the 1960s by Rachel Middleman

Radical Eroticism examines the importance of women’s contributions during the 1960s in fundamentally reconfiguring representations of sexuality across several areas of advanced art—performance, pop, postminimalism, and beyond. Rachel Middleman shows that erotic art made by women was integral to the profound changes that took place in American art during the sixties, from the crumbling of modernist aesthetics and the expanding field of art practice to the emergence of the feminist art movement.

 

Lois Weber in Early Hollywood by Shelley Stamp

Among early Hollywood’s most renowned filmmakers, Lois Weber was considered one of the era’s “three great minds” alongside D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille. Weber made films on capital punishment, contraception, poverty, and addiction, and her work grappled with the profound changes in women’s lives that unsettled Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century. Mentor to many women in the industry, Weber demanded a place at the table in early professional guilds, decrying the limited roles available for women on-screen and in the 1920s protesting the growing climate of hostility toward female directors. Stamp demonstrates how female filmmakers who had played a part in early Hollywood’s bid for respectability were in the end written out of that industry’s history.

Consuming Stories: Kara Walker and the Imagining of American Race by Rebecca Peabody

In Consuming Stories, Rebecca Peabody explores a significant yet neglected aspect of Walker’s production: her commitment to examining narrative depictions of race, gender, power, and desire. These stories, Peabody reminds us, not only change the way people remember history but also shape the entertainment industry. Consuming Stories shifts the critical conversation away from the visual legacy of historical racism toward the present-day role of the entertainment industry—and its consumers—in processes of radicalization.