Kvinnors ansikte : stereotyper och kvinnlig identitet i trettiotalets svenska filmmelodram
Sammanfattning: This dissertation analyses the status and function of the female image in the popular Swedish film melodrama of the 1930s. Its conceptual apparatus stems from the idea of film as a major cultural force, expressing a society's dominant ideology. In the classical narrative cinema, the female image is constituted by a patriarchal discourse which defines her as an object rather than a subject and with the male gaze as a controlling and normative force. Such a discourse, however, may also harbor a built-in resistance - an opposition to its (persuasive) line of argument. This oppositional discourse is called here the harassed discourse. While the patriarchal discourse speaks primarily through such things as action, dialogue and the traditional causal structure of narrative film, the harassed discourse can be distinguished through disparate fragments on many different levels of the narrative (music, visual composition and individual dialogue).The source material for this study comprises 63 of the most popular feature films produced in Sweden during the period 1929-1939. From this material one can distinguish twelve different female stereotypes describing those female categories through which the patriarchal discourse sets forth what is deemed acceptable and suitable in regard to gender conduct and attitude. However, among the selected material there are melodramas where the female protagonists do not fit into the stereotype categories. Therefore it is possible to argue that only what extends beyond the limitations of stereotypes can contribute to the formation of a female subject. The (repressive) authoritative prominence of the patriarchal discourse should not however be underestimated and accordingly, one must not exaggerate the subversive strength of the melodrama as a genre and capacity of the harassed discourse to influence the cinematic voice. Nevertheless, the remarkable thing is that there actually exists a mainstream Swedish cinema of the 1930s in which the patriarchal discourse, despite its tendency to assert its own legitimacy, has left room for an opposing female discourse to develop, which is sufficiently unified to be evaluated and analysed.
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