SCMS 2015 Panel: New Approaches to Marriage, Romance, and Conjugality

full name / name of organization: 
Krupa Shandilya
contact email: 

Second-wave feminists identified marriage as an oppressive institution that functioned to subjugate women โ€“ demanding their obedience and conformity in myriad ways and funneling their labor into housework and childrearing. Feminist film criticism of the 1970s and 1980s was also deeply invested in the critique of marriage and romance as hetero-patriarchal institutions. Yet in subsequent years, this critique receded into the background, as women participated in the workforce and obtained education in increasing numbers, marriage became a rarer and later life event across the populations of most Western countries, and as postfeminism arose.

There are a number of reasons why critiques of marriage, romance, and conjugality are in need of reopening now. For one thing, household labor has remained stubbornly unequal for decades, with women still working the so-called 'second shift'; household and family obligations have disproportionately continued to negatively affect women's careers and incomes. Even more pressingly, non-Western feminisms may have very different approaches to understanding and critiquing marriage that are in urgent need of consideration. Finally, the construction of LGBT rights through discourses of marriage is undoubtedly changing the nature of the debate; some have criticized the fight for gay marriage as deeply conservative while others have hailed it as a progressive step for all.

This panel for SCMS 2015 in Montreal reconsiders marriage, romance, and conjugality through the prisms of global, queer, and/or mainstream cinemas. We seek new approaches โ€“ whether from feminist, queer, postcolonial or other frameworks โ€“ that shed light on cultural constructions of marriage and love/romance as forces across global cultures.

The panel is open to films from all time periods and geographical regions, however, discussions of older or more well-known films should ideally show a substantially new approach that will push the debate forward.

Please send an abstract (max 2500 characters), bio (max 500 characters), and 3-5 bibliographical references to Krupa Shandilya ( and Anna Cooper ( by August 5. You will be notified of acceptance by August 10. Informal inquiries prior to sending an abstract are also welcome.