A Queer Way of Researching: Using Personal Fan Archives to Chart Feminist Film Histories, par Diana Anselmo
Séance à 18h à l’Institut national d’histoire de l’art, rue Vivienne (1er étage).
So much of what we know about the reception of American silent cinema is gleaned through the pages of movie magazines or the published impressions of famous personalities.
In my work, I excavate unknown accounts of female film spectatorship through an examination of personal fan repositories: movie scrapbooks, fan correspondence, vernacular photography, and college memory books created in the 1910s. Described as the original “adolescents” and “movie fans” by early twentieth-century journalists and psychologists, girls coming of age in the United States at the onset of Hollywood’s star system crafted first-person artifacts that not only help us track the cultural formation of nonnormative (i.e. non-heterosexual, mentally divergent, gender nonconforming, feminist) communities at a time women’s political activism and same-sex desire were openly pathologized, but also historicize the diversity of responses to the first movie stars: from aspirational consumption to social disenfranchisement, and from homoerotic desire to heteronormative entrapment.
Richly illustrated with never-before-seen images, this talk will discuss how, by researching fans’ love poems to female stars, collages of actresses in drag, and snapshots moviegoing girls took of each other kissing and cross-dressing, we can unearth an undocumented history of queer life shaped around (and abetted by) a new women-driven commercial film culture.
Diana W. Anselmo is a feminist film historian and a queer immigrant. She is the author of A Queer Way of Feeling: Girl Fans and Personal Archives of Early Hollywood (University of California Press, 2023). Her work on female audiences has appeared in Screen, Camera Obscura, Film History, Feminist Media History, JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, and Journal of Women’s History, among others. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Film at California State University, Long Beach.