Women’s Experimental Cinema


Film 319: Film Aesthetics: Women’s Experimental Cinema
Fall 2008, Fridays 10:00 to 1:00, Avery 117
Screenings: Thursdays, 7:30 to 10:30, Avery 110

Professor Ed Halter
Halter @ bard .  edu
Office: Avery 220
Office hours: Fridays 2 to 4, by appointment

A critical analysis of experimental film and video made by women, from the 1920s to today. Concepts will include: the question of female consciousness and feminine aesthetics, the role of the woman artist, the impact of feminism on filmmaking and the arts, female representation and the gaze, queer and post-colonial identity.

Attendance at all classes and screenings; one researched Wikipedia entry on a woman artist (to be assigned in class); one 12-15 page final research paper; the presentation of one week’s reading. Three absences and your grade automatically drops a letter; more than three and it drops two.

Grading rubric: 25% participation (including presentation), 25% Wikipedia research project; 50% final paper. All assigned work must be completed by the semester’s end for a passing grade.

Shorter readings and book excerpts will be available on Reserveweb or linked from this syllabus. The following required books are available at the Bark Bookstore and have been placed on 3-hour reserve at Stevenson Library:

Women’s Experimental Cinema, ed. Robin Blaetz (WEC)
Points of Resistance (2nd edition) by Lauren Rabinovtiz (POR)
Chick Flicks by B. Ruby Rich (CF)

In-class presentation
Each week one student will give a 15-20 minute presentation on that week's readings, meant to kick off that day's discussion, which will count towards participation. Each presentation should outline the basic arguments or themes of the readings, and attempt to connect them to that week's film. You may focus primarily on one or two readings if you wish, but do address all of that week’s reading.

Class Schedule

Thu Sep 4 / Fri Sep 5
Germaine Dulac, The Smiling Madame Beudet (France, 1923, 31 mins)
Germaine Dulac, The Seashell and the Clergyman (France, 1928, 30 mins)
Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon (USA, 1943-59, 14 mins)
Maya Deren, At Land (USA, 1944, 15 mins)
Maya Deren, A Study in Choreography for Camera (USA, 1945, 4 mins)

All recommended
POR, 1-91
Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, “Germaine Dulac: First Feminist of the Avant-Garde”
Germaine Dulac, “From  ‘Visual and Anti-Visual Films”, “The Essence of the Cinema: The Visual Idea” and “The Avant-Garde Cinema”
Maya Deren, “Cinema as an Art Form”
CF, 7-18

Thu Sep 11 & Fri Sep 12
Sara Kathryn Arledge, What Is A Man? (US, 1958, 10 mins)
Marie Menken, Glimpse of the Garden (USA, 1957, 5 mins)
Marie Menken, Dwightiana (USA, 1957, 3.5 mins)
Marie Menken, Dips in Strips (USA, 1961, 2.5 mins)
Marie Menken, Moonplay (USA, 1964-66, 5 mins)
Marie Menken, Wrestling (USA, 1964, 8 mins)
Storm De Hirsch, Divinations (USA, 1964, 5.5 mins)
Carolee Schneeman, Fuses (USA, 1967, 23 mins)
Storm de Hirsch, Third Eye Butterfly (USA, 1968, 10 mins)

Reading (presentations Vanessa, Natalie)
WEC: Melissa Ragona, “Swing and Sway: Marie Menken’s filmic events”
WEC: M.M. Serra and Kathryn Ramey, “Eye/body: the cinematic paintings of Carolee Schneeman”
CF, 19-28
Shirley Clarke and Storm de Hirsch, “A Conversation—Shirley Clarke and Storm de Hirsch”

Kate Haug, “An Interview with Carolee Schneeman”
POR, 92-149

Thu Sep 18 / Fri Sep 19
Gunvor Nelson, Schmeerguntz (USA, 1966, 15 mins)
Gunvor Nelson, Take Off (USA, 1972, 10 mins)
Jackie Raynal, Deux Fois (France, 1968, 72 mins)

Reading (presentations SongSoo)
WEC: Chris Holmlund, “Excavating visual fields, layering auditory frames: signature, translation, resonance, and Gunvor Nelson’s films”
Camera Obscura Collective, “An Interrogation of the Cinematic Sign: Woman as Sexual Signifier in Jackie Raynal’s Deux Fois”
CF, 169-173
Jan Rosenberg, “Feminism and Film”

Fri, Sep 19, 2pm – 5 pm
Chantal Akerman, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Belgium, 1975, 198 mins).

Thu Sep 25 / Fri Sep 26
Joyce Wieland, Water Sark (Canada, 1965, 14 mins)
Joyce Wieland, Catfood (Canada, 1968, 13 mins)
Joyce Wieland, Hand Tinting (Canada, 1967, 6 mins)
Colen Fitzgibbon, Restoring Appearances To Order In 12 Minutes (US, 1975, 10 mins)
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Permutations (US, 16mm, 1976, 10 mins)
Amy Taubin, In the Bag (US, 1981, 20 mins)

Reading (presentation Kate)
POR, 150-233
WEC: Paul Arthur, “Different/same/both/neither: the polycentric cinema of Joyce Wieland”
Noel Carroll, “Amy Taubin’s Bag”
Claudine Hermann, “Women in Space and Time”

Thu Oct 2 / Fri Oct 3
Lynda Benglis, Now (US, video, 1973, 12 min)
Lynda Benglis, Female Sensibility (US, video, 1973, 14 mins)
Nancy Holt, Underscan (US, video, 1973-74, 10 mins)
Martha Rosler, Semiotics of the Kitchen (US, video, 1975, 7 mins)
Martha Rosler, Vital Statistics of a Citizen Obtained (US, video, 1977, 40 mins)
Howardena Pindell, Free, White and 21 (US, video, 1980, 12 mins)

Reading (presentation Roberto)
Martha Rosler, “Video: Shedding the Utopian Moment”
Melinda Barlow, "Feminism 101: The New York Women's Film Festival, 1972-1980"
Amy Taubin, “’And what is a fact anyway?’ (On a Tape by Martha Rosler)”
Cecilia Dougherty, “Stories from a Generation: Early Video at the LA Women’s Building” (link or pdf)
Laura Kipnis, “Female Transgression”

Thu Oct 9 / Fri Oct 10
JoAnn Elam, Rape (USA, 1975, 35 mins)
Barbara Hammer, Eggs (US, 16mm, 1978, 8 mins)
Barbara Hammer, Dyketactics (US, 16mm, 1974, 4 mins)
Barbara Hammer, Sisters! (US, 16mm, 1973, 8 mins)
Barbara Hammer, Women’s Rites (US, 16mm, 1974, 7 mins)
Michelle Citron, Daughter Rite (USA, 1979, 53 mins)
Marjorie Keller, Misconceptions (USA, 1977, 43 mins) (screened in class)

Reading (presentations Alana, Ben):
Richard Dyer, “Lesbian/woman: Lesbian cultural feminist film”
Julia Lesage, “Disarming film rape”
CF, 116-124, 212-219
WEC: Robin Blaetz, “Amnesis time: the films of Marjorie Keller”
WEC: Chuck Kleinhans , “Barbara Hammer: lyrics and history”

Thu Oct 16
Yvonne Rainer, Film About A Woman Who… (USA, 1974, 105 mins)
Fri Oct 17
Valie Export, Invisible Adversaries (Austria, 1976, 104 mins)

Michelle Citron, Julia Lesage, Judith Mayne, B. Ruby Rich, Anne Marie Taylor, “Women and Film: A Discussion of Feminist Aesthetics”
WEC: Noel Carroll, “Moving and moving: from minimalism to Lives of performers”
CF, 125-155
Joanna Kiernan, “Films by Valie Export”
Scott MacDonald, “Interview with Valie Export (on Invisible Adversaries)”

Thu Oct 23 / Fri Oct 24
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, Riddles of the Sphinx (UK, 16mm, 1977, 92 mins)

Reading (presentations Liz)
Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema” (pdf)
Laura Mulvey, “Film, Feminism and the Avant-Garde”
Allison Butler, “From Counter Cinema to Minor Cinema” (link, read pp. 1-23)

WEC: Scott MacDonald, “Women's experimental cinema: some pedagogical challenges”
Sigmund Freud, “Female Sexuality” (pdf)
Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage” (pdf)

Thu Oct 30 / Fri Oct 31
Sally Potter, Thriller (UK, 1979, 45 mins)
Trinh T. Mihn-ha, Reassemblage (USA, 1983, 40 mins)

Reading (presentation Rand):
CF, 220-232
Interview with Trinh T. Minh-ha by Constance Penley and Andrew Ross

Thu Nov 6 / Fri Nov 7
Su Friedrich, Gently Down the Stream (US, 16mm, 1981, 13 mins)
Su Friedrich, The Ties That Bind (US, 16mm, 1984, 55 mins)
Su Friedrich, Sink or Swim (US, 16mm, 1990, 48 mins)

Reading (presentation Kendra):
WEC: Janet Cutler, “Su Friedrich: breaking the rules”
Judith Mayne, “Su Friedrich’s Swimming Lessons”
Luce Irigaray, “This Sex Which Is Not One”

Thu Nov 13 / Fri Nov 14  
Marjorie Keller, Daughters of Chaos (US, 16mm, 1980, 20 mins)
Esther Shatavsky, Bedtime Story (US, 1981, 6 mins),
Abigail Child, Mayhem (US, 16mm, 1987, 17 mins)
Abigail Child, Perils (US, 16mm, 1986, 4 mins)
Leslie Thornton, Peggy and Fred in Kansas (US, 16mm, 1987, 11 mins)
Leslie Thornton, Peggy and Fred and Pete (US, 16mm, 1983, 22 mins)
Leslie Thornton, Dung Smoke Enters the Palace (US, 16mm, 1989, 16 mins)

Reading (presentation Marlies):
WEC: Mary Ann Doane, “In the ruins of the image: the works of Leslie Thornton”
WEC: Maureen Turim, “Sounds, intervals, and startling images in the films of Abigail Child”
Catherine Russell, “Culture as Fiction: The Ethnographic Impulse in the Films of Peggy Ahwesh, Su Friedrich and Leslie Thornton”

Thu Nov 20 / Fri Nov 21 
Vivienne Dick, Guerillere Talks (US/Ireland, Super-8, 28 mins)
Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Baby Doll (US, 16mm, 1982, 5 mins)
Peggy Ahwesh, Martina’s Playhouse (US, 16mm, 1989, 20 mins)
Sarah Jacobson, I Was a Teenage Serial Killer (US, 16mm, 1993, 27 mins)
Peggy Ahwesh, The Color of Love (US, 16mm, 1994, 10 mins)
Martha Colburn, Evil of Dracula (US, 16mm, 1997, 2 mins)
Martha Colburn, I Can’t Keep Up (US, 16mm, 1997, 3 mins)
Martha Colburn, What’s On? (US, 16mm, 1997, 2 mins)
screening in class:
GB Jones, The Yo-Yo Gang (Canada, Super-8, 1997, 30 mins)

Reading (presentation Amy):
WEC: William C. Wees, “Peggy's playhouse: contesting the modernist paradigm”
J. Hoberman, “Notes on Three Films by Vivienne Dick”
Meave Connolly, "From No Wave to National Cinema: The Cultural Landscape of Vivienne Dick's Early Films"
Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa”

Thu Nov 27 / Fri Nov 28
No class

Thu Dec 4 / Fri Dec 5
Cauleen Smith, Chronicles of a Lying Spirit by Kelly Gabron (US, 16mm, 13 mins, 1992)
Leah Gilliam, Sapphire and the Slave Girl (US, video, 1995, 18 mins)
Alex Bag, Untitled 1995 (US, video, 1995, 60 mins)

Reading (presentation Sarah):
Judith Butler, selections from Gender Trouble
Scott MacDonald, interview with Cauleen Smith

Thu Dec 11 / Fri Dec 12
Elisabeth Subrin, Swallow (US, video, 1995, 28 mins)
Elisabeth Subrin, Shulie (US, video, 1997, 37 mins)
Sadie Benning, Flat is Beautiful (US, video, 1998, 50 mins)

Reading (presentation Anna):
Elisabeth Subrin, “Trashing Shulie: Remnants From Some Abandoned Feminist History”
Sadie Benning, [Statement on] "Flat is Beautiful"
Bill Horrigan, “Sadie Benning or the Secret Annex”

Thu Dec 18 / Thu Dec 19
Completion week
Contemporary work by Deborah Stratman, Greta Snider, Jacke Goss, Eileen Maxson, K8 Hardy, Jeannie Liotta, Patty Chang, Jennifer Reeves.