The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Department of English

Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"

(page numbers are from the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism)

To what extent do Mulvey's ideas expand on those of Walter Benjamin? How do they form a corrective?

What is the date of her essay? What are some reasons for the differences in tone between her remarks and those of Benjamin?

How in her view do conventional gender assumptions underlie the ways in which movies are filmed and perceived?

What does she see as a basic myth of "phallocentrism"? Which features of identity does it illuminate and which does it ignore? (2183)

What new developments does she see as enabling an alternative cinema? (2183) Against what assumptions and obsessions would such a cinema react?

What form of pleasure does she wish to deny, and in favor of what goal? (2183-84)

What response does the cinema audience have to images of persons on the screen? (2184) How do movie images create a temporary loss of self as well as reinforce the viewer's ego?

What psychological function is served by the presence of movie stars in the cinema? (2185)

How are women and men presented within the structure of the action, and toward what end? (2187)

What does she see as the function of sadism and "fetishistic scopophilia" within movie plots? (2189) What examples does she give of these processes?

How in her view is cinema uniquely designed to make the act of looking central to the spectacle? (2192)

What changes does she advocate in the making of movies? How should the viewer's gaze be redeployed?

Are there other changes which might help accomplish her goals?

Do you see validity in Mulvey's critique of conventional movie plots?

To what extent has the cinematic representation of heroes and women changed since Mulvey's essay?

How would Mulvey's analyses need modification to account for women heterosexual viewers? For gay and lesbian viewers?

Could present-day "reality t. v." be similarly critiqued on Mulveyan grounds?



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