Nostalgia and Sexual Difference: The Resistance to Contemporary Feminism

Janice Doane, Author, Devon Hodges, Author Methuen $27.5 (169p) ISBN 978-0-416-01531-7
In this collection of a dozen essays written over the last decade, Doane ( The Desire to Desire ) demonstrates a heavily Freudian bent in plumbing the nexus of ``knowledge and sexuality and their impact on feminism,'' particularly in terms of film theory. At the heart of the book is the idea that the cinema is ``a machine for the generation of desire,'' for exploring and exploiting sexual difference. This thesis comes into play most tellingly when she engages specific films, including Gilda , Pandora's Box and La Signora di tutti . There Doane's insights into the ways in which women's bodies become a cinematic battleground are startling and illuminating. Likewise, her lengthy essays on psychoanalysis and racial difference and on the relationship between Freudian concept of sublimation and aesthetics (both written for this volume) are lucid and provocative, challenging the assumption that both race and aesthetics lie outside the purview of psychoanalysis. Unfortunately, Doane's dry-as-dust academic prose and general humorlessness detract from the book's appeal to non-specialists; the theoretical essays at the front of the volume are a particularly hard slog. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
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