Film Studies: Portrait of Mrs. Bluebeard

November 13, 2017 - 5:30pm

Portrait of Mrs. Bluebeard: the Woman-in-Jeopardy Gothic Film

This presentation will discuss the woman-in-peril strand of the Gothic, asserting that it is more than the short-lived cycle that scholars (Doane; Waldman; Hanson) have previously assumed, but actually a genre with much more longevity. Drawing inspiration from the myth of Psyche and Cupid, and from the folk tale of Bluebeard, these films share both a common narrative template and aesthetic characteristics, iconographic elements that recur obsessively. This paper will consider one such element, the portrait, examining its significance within the genre, and the innovative ways in which recent entries in the canon have updated the more traditional oil painting familiar from Rebecca (1940), Gaslight (1944) or Dragonwyck (1946).

Tamar Jeffers McDonald is Reader in Film at the University of Kent. She read English at Somerville College, Oxford, before being awarded her PhD in Film by the University of Warwick. She is the author of Romantic Comedy: Boy Meets Girl Meets Genre (Columbia University Press, 2007) and Hollywood Catwalk: Exploring Costume and Transformation in American Film (I. B. Tauris, 2010). Virgin Territory: Representing Sexual Inexperience In Film, her edited collection on filmic presentations of virginity, was published in 2010 by Wayne State University Press. Her 2013 publication, Doris Day Confidential: Hollywood, Sex and Stardom, explored the myth of the "forty year old virgin" attached to Day, locating its origins in the very movie magazines that condemned her for playing the role. Her most recent monograph was an in-depth analysis of When Harry Met Sally… published by the British Film Institute (2015). Forthcoming publications include two co-edited collections, one on fan magazines and other on the Gothic in film, her current major research area.

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501 Cathedral of Learning