I am feeling incredibly guilty right now. I love this blog so much and love everything that it stands for: the books, the reviews, the theatre, the drama; but unfortunately real life seems to have taken over in the last month and my lovely little blog fell to the wayside.
That’s the reality of being a student in the final year of her degree when instead of having time to write about Me Before You or Elizabeth Is Missing, two posts I was really looking forward to writing, I am instead dedicating my time to reading such works as Gender Trouble by Judith Butler and The Femme Fatale by Virginia Allen. Unfortunately, dissertation reading has taken over my life, especially as I’m doing two, and even though I have a fabulous pile up of books that look at me every night before I go to sleep, I haven’t managed to open any of them.
So my apologies to anyone that does read this blog and my apologies also to myself. I’ve even had a bout of tooth infection last week which put me off reading even The Femme Fatale never mind My Name is Leon.
So as well as taking the opportunity in this post to apologise briefly I thought I’d introduce my dissertations, in case they’re of any interest, and to show you readers what’s taking up my time instead of writing for you.
I’m a Joint Honours English Lit and Hispanic Studies student (Spanish in fancy terms) so I’m writing two 6,000 word essays on two similar but distinct topics (if that makes any sense at all). I think they’re both rather different, but as both are deep interests of mine, I can see where the possible similarities are: namely the discussion of women.
So without any further ado, here are my dissertations:
Spanish Independent Study Module
Don’t ask why it’s called this, I’m not sure either. But nevertheless, mine will be – or rather is, as it’s already pretty concrete, and even has some parts of it written – a study of gender subversion in two Spanish Civil War films, Belle Epoque (1992) and Libertarias (1996).
Republican Spain was an era of subverting traditional norms and retreating from total social conformity, shown in both an idyllic and bleak light. Belle Époque leans more towards the idyllic side of subversion, in which hierarchies, social norms and gender roles are reversed, whilst possibilities for escapism seem endless. Conversely, Libertarias shows the bleak reality of forced conformity to traditional roles from which women were desperate to escape.
What’s interesting about these two films is that both were directed in the 1990s, whilst set in the early 1930s. A study of this shows the effect hindsight and nostalgia has on cinema and portrayals of gender in film.
My study will focus on unpacking gender theory by Judith Butler and Judith Halberstam, cinematic gaze theory by Laura Mulvey and spatial theory by Edward Said and Michael Foucault, whilst rounding it out with the consideration of nostalgia and contention. This all sounds rather complicated and confusing, but I’m hoping once I get around to writing it, it will all start to make sense. At least to the markers and me!
English Literature Extended Essay
My English Literature focus is on the very new (in English Lit terms), very progressive genre of ‘domestic noir’. This is primarily how the noir crime genre of film, and indeed fiction, places itself within a domestic sphere. For this, my primary texts will be the very well known and very popular Gone Girl and We Need to Talk About Kevin, with minor consideration of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go to Sleep.
With this I intend to consider why this genre is growing in popularity and what makes it distinct as a genre. In doing this I can consider its marketable qualities, the human fascination with crime and most importantly the effect on the reader.
It’s also incredibly important, for me as a female reader and female voice, to make a clear distinction as to why we must call it ‘domestic noir’ rather than ‘chick noir’. This established notion of ‘chick noir’, or ‘chick lit’ or ‘chick crime’ is incredibly damaging to a genre that is equally as important in the literary world as literature written by and for men. There should be no distinction between gendered readers in 2015 and these books are as worthy of being written about academically as novels by male authors.
For this reason, I am hoping that an academic study of the ‘domestic noir’ genre (which in my research has not been done yet) will open doors for the genre and solidify its place in the literary canon. And hopefully gain me some points for originality!
So those are my dissertations – congratulations if you made it to the end! Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I will aim to get out more blog posts of the things that this blog is meant to be about, book reviews and the like.