Writer and film-maker Laura Mulvey is widely regarded as one of the most challenging and incisive contemporary cultural theorists, credited for incorporating film theory, psychoanalysis and feminism. Part of the pathbeating 1970s generation of British film theorists and independent film-makers, she came to prominence with her classic essay on the pleasures - and displeasures - of
narrative cinema, 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema'. She went on to make her own avant-garde films, co-directed with Peter Wollen, and to write further, greatly influential works - including this one.
Fetishism and Curiosity contains writings which range from analyses of Xala, Citizen Kane and Blue Velvet, to an extended engagement with the creations of Native American artist Jimmie Durham and the feminist photographer Cindy Sherman. Essays explore the concept of fetishism as developed by Marx and Freud, and how it relates to the ways in which artistic texts work.
Mulvey returns to some of the knottier issues in contemporary cultural theory, especially the links between looking, fantasy and theorisation on the one hand, and the processes of historical change on the other. What are the modes of address that characterise 'societies of the spectacle'? How might 'curiosity' be directed towards deciphering the politics of popular culture? These are just some of the questions raised in this brilliant and subtle collection.
Published as part of the BFI Silver series, this new edition of Mulvey's classic work of feminist theory features a new, specially commissioned introduction and stills from the films discussed.
Laura Mulvey is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. She is the author of Death Twenty-four Times a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (2006), Visual and Other Pleasures (1989; 2009), and the BFI Film Classic on Citizen Kane (1992; 2012).
Acknowledgments.- Preface.- Introduction.- PART I: WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD?.- 1. Americantitis: European Intellectuals and Hollywood Melodrama.- 2. Social Hieroglyphics: Reflections on Two Films by Douglas Sirk.- 3. Close-ups and Commodities.- PART II: DIALECTICS OF DIVISION.- 4. Pandora's Box: Topographies of Curiosity.- 5. Cosmetics and Abjection: Cindy Sherman 1977-87.- 6. The Hole and the Zero: Godard's Vision of Femininity.- PART III: DOLLAR-BOOK FREUD.- 7. From Log Cabin to Xanadu: Psychoanalysis and History in Citizen Kane.- 8. The Carapace that Failed: Ousmane Sembene's Xala.- 9. Netherworlds and the Unconscious: Oedipus and Blue Velvet.- 10. Postscript Changing Objects, Preserving Time.- Notes.- Index.