Evolving Women in Film

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast MLA 2019 Conference
contact email: 

Open discussion of how women are portrayed in film should examine how those portrayals evolve over time to reflect changing cultural values. Women have fulfilled roles that exhibit their historically subservient or sexualized positions in society, among others. Over the decades the gender identity of women has fluctuated to include powerful women, emotionally strong women, lesbian women, and even neurologically atypical women. These identities reflect the expanding possibilities that society recognizes as more likely and more mainstream.

In the 1950s era in America, women in movies were depicted as the counterpart to male characters and their masculinity, either as a threat or support to the patriarchal norms. Since then, these norms have been questioned, challenged, deconstructed and reconstructed to include women in a more equitable balance. Contributors to this roundtable could examine particular films, actors/actresses’ careers or ground-breaking roles, or film genres that allow for discussion and analysis of how society’s views of women have changed, and perhaps where these views might travel in the future.

Women still fight for equal access, equal pay, equal standing in all walks of life and in many different cultures. The film industry does not only exist in Hollywood – films made from around the world voice their cultural norms and question women’s roles within them perhaps more boldly and more honestly in recent history than are recognized by mainstream America. Those films deserve attention and recognition in this discussion as well.

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