The Future of an Illusion

The Future of an Illusion: Film, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis

Constance Penley
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 1989
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsb3d
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  • Book Info
    The Future of an Illusion
    Book Description:

    Analyzes the primary movements that have shaped the field of feminist film theory. Essential to anyone studying the sexual politics of representation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8314-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xx)
  5. Feminism and the Avant-Garde
    • ONE The Avant-Garde and Its Imaginary
      (pp. 3-29)

      The new metapsychological approaches to film and cinema can help us to think about the interest of certain recent avant-garde strategies to a feminist filmmaking practice. Any encounter of an avant-garde practice with an avowedly political one is, and has been, historically problematic. I would like to look at some of the presuppositions of one contemporary avant-garde movement from the point of view of these new approaches based on Freudian and Lacanian theory because I think they can illuminate some of the difficulties often found in the meeting of political and avant-garde practice. In the English Co-op movement we find...

    • TWO The Avant-Garde: Histories and Theories
      (pp. 31-38)

      In the introduction toA History of the American Avant-Garde Cinema,¹one of several scholarly treatments of avant-garde film published in the last three or four years, Marilyn Singer emphasizes that avant-garde film requires both a new criticism and a new way of looking at film. There is now enough American critical work on experimental film to enable us to ask if and to what degree it indeed represents a new kind of criticism and a new way of looking at film.

      Whether known as “underground,” “independent,” “experimental,” or “avant-garde,” this kind of film, produced outside the industry, usually by...

  6. Feminism and Film Theory
    • THREE “A Certain Refusal of Difference”: Feminism and Film Theory
      (pp. 41-55)

      Looking back over ten years of feminist theoretical writing on film, it is possible to pick out one distinct and insistently polemical strain that has had pervasive effects on the ideas and methods of film theory, as well as on feminist filmmaking. While taking film theory on its own terms—semiology, psychoanalysis, textual analysis, theories of the cinematic apparatus—this is an approach which, nonetheless, questions those “terms of analysis” on one specific issue: the way in which each takes up the problem of sexual difference in the cinema. For, the feminist film theory that I am citing here has...

    • FOUR Feminism, Film Theory, and the Bachelor Machines
      (pp. 57-80)

      “Bachelor machine” is the term Marcel Duchamp used to designate the lower part of his “Large Glass: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even,” a term aptly borrowed by Michel Carrouges to name a phenomenon that he describes inMachines Celibataires.¹From about 1850 to 1925 numerous artists, writers, and scientists imaginatively or in reality constructed anthropomorphized machines to represent the relation of the body to the social, the relation of the sexes to each other, the structure of the psyche, or the workings of history. His spectacular inventory of literary and artistic bachelor machines lists Mary Shelley’sFrankenstein,...

  7. Feminism and Femininity in Godard
    • FIVE Pornography, Eroticism (on Every Man for Himself)
      (pp. 83-91)

      Near the beginning ofSauve qui pent (la vie),in a scene that has been singled out for accusations of pornography, specifically, pedophilia, “Paul Godard” drops by a sports field to pick up his eleven-year-old daughter, Cécile. He asks the coach, who has just remarked that he has a daughter the same age as Cecile, whether he ever “feels like caressing her tits or fucking her up the ass?” This scene and others like it that mention or depict bestiality, prostitution, masturbation, sadism, masochism, sodomy, and voyeurism, do indeed provide the spectator a wide-ranging iconography of the pornographic. But is...

    • SIX Les Enfants de la Patrie (on France/Tour/Detour/Two Children)
      (pp. 93-118)

      G. Bruno’sLe Tour de la France par Deux Enfantswas the most widely read and loved of the nineteenthcentury “reading books” or primers used in French schools. Madame Alfred Jules Emile Fouilée, writing under the pseudonym “G. Bruno,” tells the story of two orphaned boys who travel through every province and major city of France in search of their uncle and citizenship (born in Alsace-Lorraine, they must decide to be either French or German). Having been taught duty and love of country at an early age (their father’s dying words were “La France!”), the journey further strengthens their patriotic...

  8. Sexual Difference in Popular Culture
    • SEVEN Time Travel, Primal Scene, and the Critical Dystopia (on The Terminator and La Jetée)
      (pp. 121-139)

      If the sure sign of postmodern success is the ability to inspire spin-offs,The Terminatorwas a prodigy. The film was quickly replicated byExterminator, Re-animator, Eliminators, The Annihilators,and the hard-coreThe Sperminator,all sound-alikes if not look-alikes. It then went on to garner one of popular culture's highest accolades when a West Coast band named itselfTerminators of Endearment.And just to show that modernity knows no boundaries, national or otherwise, an oppressively large (2 ft. x 3 ft.) and trendy new Canadian journal has appeared, calling itselfThe Manipulator.

      For some science-fiction critics, Fredric Jameson among them,...

    • EIGHT The Cabinet of Dr.Pee-wee: Consumerism and Sexual Terror
      (pp. 141-162)

      What goes on inPee-wee’s Playhouse?What goes on outsidePee-wee’s Playhouse?On the inside we have the hi-tech, low-taste spectacle of Sexually ambiguous adults, not exactly pretending to be kids, yet inhabiting this child’s fantasy-land with hyperactive glee. Outside and around the Playhouse we have the world of Saturday morning television and its efforts to deliver the children to the advertisers. What then does the outside of the Playhouse have to do with the inside?

      What goes oninthe Playhouse is that Pee-wee and his guests are “playing house.” This is literally so in one episode that takes...

  9. Feminism and Pedagogy
    • NINE Teaching in Your Sleep: Feminism and Psychoanalysis
      (pp. 165-182)

      The April 5, 1979, ISSUE ofThe New York Review of Bookscarried this letter from a reader:

      Richard Wollheim ends his informative and challenging article on Jacques Lacan with a polemical aside that leaves me puzzled. He writes: “Lacan’s ideas and Lacan’s style, yoked in an indissoluble union, represent an invasive tyranny. And it is by a hideous irony that this tyranny should find its recruits among groups that have nothing in common except the sense that they lack a theory worthy of their cause or calling: feminists,cinéastes,professors of literature.”

      Would Professor Wollheim care to explain on...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 185-200)
  11. Index
    (pp. 203-208)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 209-209)