While women have long been featured in leading roles in film and television, the intellectual depictions of female characters in these mediums are out of line with reality. Women continue to be marginalized for their choices, overshadowed by men, and judged by their bodies. In fact, the intelligence of women is rarely the focus of television or film narratives, and on the rare occasion when smart women are showcased, their portrayals are undermined by socially awkward behavior or their intimate relationships are doomed to perpetual failure. While Hollywood claims to offer a different, more evolved look at women, these movies and shows often just repackage old character types that still downplay the intelligence and savvy of women.
In Smart Chicks on Screen: Representing Women's Intellect in Film and Television, Laura Mattoon D'Amore brings together an impressive array of scholarship that interrogates the portrayal of females on television and in movies. Among the questions that the volume seeks to answer are: In what ways are women in film and television limited, or ostracized, by their intelligence? How do female roles reinforce standards of beauty, submissiveness, and silence over intellect, problem solving, and leadership? Are there women in film and television who are intelligent without also being objectified?
The thirteen essays by international, interdisciplinary scholars offer a wide range of perspectives, examining the connections-and disconnections-between beauty and brains in film and television. Smart Chicks on Screen will be of interest to scholars not only of film and television but of women's studies, reception studies, and cultural history, as well.
Laura Mattoon D'Amore is assistant professor of American studies at Roger Williams University. She is the editor of Bound by Love: Familial Bonding in Film and Television Since 1950 (2009) and co-editor of We Are What We Remember: The American Past through Commemoration (2012).
Introduction, Laura Mattoon D'Amore Chapter One: Not Just Born Yesterday: July Holliday, the Red Scare, and the (Mis-)Uses of Hollywood's "Dumb Blonde" Image Stephen R. Duncan Chapter Two: The Fuzzy End of the Lollipop: Protofeminism and Collective Subjectivity in Some Like it Hot Melissa Meade Chapter Three: Brainy Broads: Images of Women's Intellect in Film Noir Sheri Chinen Biesen Chapter Four: Troubling Binaries: Women Scientists in 1950s B-Movies Linda Levitt Chapter Five: "The High Priestess of the Desert": Female Intellect and Subjectivity in Contact Allison Whitney Chapter Six: Mad Men's Peggy Olsen: A Pre-Feminist Champion in a Post-Feminist TV Landscape Stefania Marghitu Chapter Seven: A Deeper Cut: Enlightened Sexism and Grey's Anatomy Mikaela Feroli Chapter Eight: "There is no genius": Dr. Joan Watson and the Re-writing of Gender and Intelligence on CBS' Elementary Helen Kang and Natasha Patterson Chapter Nine: ...Stories Worth Telling: How Kerry Washington Balances Brains, Beauty, and Power in Hollywood De Anna J. Reese Chapter Ten: Post-Feminism, Sexuality and the Question of Millenial Identity on HBO's Girls Margaret J. Tally Chapter Eleven: I Can't Believe I Fell for Muppet Man! Female Nerds and the Order of Discourse Raewyn Campbell Chapter Twelve: Brains, Beauty, and Feminist Television: The Women of The Big Bang Theory Amanda Stone Chapter Thirteen: Too Smart for Their Own Good? Images of Young Jewish Women in Television and Film Rachel Shaina Bernstein About the Editor About the Contributors Index