The imperfect woman: femininity and British cinema, 1945-1958

Mash, Melinda (1996) The imperfect woman: femininity and British cinema, 1945-1958. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the reconstruction of femininity in Britain in the post-war period (1945-1958). This is carried out through an examination of the socioeconomic and cultural formation of the period, contemporaneous cultural
commentaries, contemporary critical writing about the cinema audience, and selected British films from the period, including a detailed study of Yield to the Night (1956). The thesis utilises a range oftheoretical approaches to these issues -
film theory, feminist theory and epistemology, social and oral history, discourse theory and textual analysis. The methodological framework of the thesis reflects its feminist concerns and, in tum, engages with debates within feminist theory concerning questions of methodology and epistemology.

Accordingly, the first chapter outlines the methodological framework of the thesis as well as situating it in relation to published work in similar areas. In addition, this chapter introduces the themes of the subsequent chapters and clarifies certain key terms used throughout. The second chapter concentrates on the socio-economic and cultural formation of the period 1945-1958 and argues that this period is marked by particular discursive formations - 'Austerity', 'Affluence' and' Americanisation'. These are then discussed in relation to the ways that they are gendered and thus promote prescribed forms of femininity and womanliness. Chapter three focuses on the presentation of the period in terms of women's experiences of the time. This is achieved through an analysis of the tensions between domesticity, women's entry into the labour market and the discursive pressures on women at this time. Chapter four extends the arguments presented in the previous chapters with reference to selected films from the period - Dance Hall (1950), Turn the Key Softly (1953) and Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957), which is discussed with reference to Brief
Encounter (1945). Chapter five analyses two film publications from the period - Penguin Film Review (1946-1949) and The Picturegoer (1931-1960) - in order to establish the discursive construction of the female cinema audience. Finally, Chapter
six is an in-depth analysis of Yield to the Night (1956) with respect to critical and audience reception of the film and the issue of the construction of 'Affluent femininity.'

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: B. > Theses
Item ID: 13594
Depositing User: Adam Miller
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2015 16:44
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2019 19:31
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/13594

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