By Philippa Gates
During this wide and authoritative research of greater than 300 motion pictures, Philippa Gates explores the “woman detective” determine from her pre-cinematic origins in nineteenth-century detective fiction via her many incarnations in the course of the background of Hollywood cinema. throughout the lens of theories of gender, style, and stardom and fascinating with the severe thoughts of performativity, masquerade, and feminism, Detecting girls analyzes structures of the feminine investigator within the detective style and makes a speciality of the evolution of her illustration from 1929 to this present day. whereas a favored assumption is that photographs of girls became more and more confident over this era, Gates argues that the main innovative and feminist versions of the feminine detective exist in mainstream film’s extra peripheral items, reminiscent of Thirties B photos and Seventies blaxploitation motion pictures. delivering revisions and new insights into peripheral different types of mainstream movie, Gates explores this area that enables a myth of solution of social anxieties approximately crime and, extra apparently, gender, within the 20th and early twenty-first centuries. The author’s leading edge, attractive, and capacious method of this crucial determine inside feminist movie background breaks new floor within the fields of gender and picture reports.
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Extra info for Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film
Much of the focus of feminist criticism addressing the female detective until recently has identiﬁed the “problem” as the discontinuity that arises when a female protagonist is placed in the central position of a male genre. Klein argues, in detective ﬁction, the “anticipated pattern of successful crime solving” of a male detective “suddenly collapses” when he is replaced with a female protagonist (1). Indeed, the two most prevalent debates—commencing in the 1980s but often continuing today—have been, ﬁrst, whether casting a woman in a male role results in a feminist representation and, second, whether the narrative and themes of the detective genre must accommodate female concerns with the sex-change of the protagonist.
The cultural and historicist turn in ﬁlm criticism meant that, by the 1990s, there was an increased interest in ﬁlm as a social and economic institution, the ethnography of audiences, the cultural relevance of texts, and a more historicist approach. Indeed, Detecting Women grew out of a desire to map the history of the female detective in relation to changing social, economic, historical, and industrial contexts. Identifying the “Problem” In terms of the detective genre, feminist criticism evolved out of an interest in women’s detective ﬁction writers and the degree of feminism represented by their female detective characters.
Nickerson suggests that the difference between the two traditions is mainly in the conclusions: that the domestic heroine achieves a level of 20 Detecting Women serenity unavailable to her gothic counterpart, but that both traditions “valorize intelligence in women” and “that all serious learning involves self-knowledge” (14). Lisa Dresner qualiﬁes that there are limitations imposed on the heroine in the female gothic novel in terms of her abilities as a detective and that she can be regarded as an “almost-detective”: “No matter how strong her desire to investigate, and no matter how strong her linguistic and interpretive mastery, she is never allowed to bring her investigation to a successful conclusion through her own efforts” (39).