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June 2022, Week 3


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Karen McNally <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 14 Jun 2022 04:54:48 -0500
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Call for Papers

Women and Hollywood: Tales of Inequality, Abuse and Resistance in the Dream Factory

Edited by Karen McNally

Abstract Deadline: Friday 15 July 2022

Responses to the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp defamation trial prompt numerous questions about the reception of Hollywood movie stardom as legal cases of abuse play out in the combined ages of television and social media. Moreover, the layered gender dynamics can be contextualized within a contemporary framework of exposure and resistance that includes the imprisonment of Harvey Weinstein on rape and sexual assault charges, and the pay inequalities publicized by actresses including Michelle Williams and Octavia Spencer. Amplified by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, as well as by organizations and initiatives such as the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, issues of inequality and various forms of abuse have become central to our understanding of the female experience of contemporary Hollywood. 

Yet these narratives are far from revelatory, hidden or limited to a contemporary context. The power imbalances and mistreatment that have partly defined women’s careers in the American film industry are as long-established as they are persistent, built into the structure of Hollywood and stretching across its entire history. From the euphemistically- termed ‘casting couch’ to the control of stars’ reproductive choices, and from the indirect expulsion of female directors (O’Hara, 2021), to male ownership of women’s work (McLean, 2022) and the multiple limitations placed upon women of colour, the professional experience in Hollywood for women has consistently been different from that of their male colleagues. These inequalities have at the same time been both enacted and challenged in plain sight. Backstudio pictures (Cohan, 2019) and stardom films (McNally, 2021) disturb their promotion of Hollywood mythology with characters who negotiate their professional lives around these gendered obstacles; historical films and TV dramas revisit and revise these myths with alternative histories; and biopics, documentaries, press articles, television interviews, biographies, autobiographies and social media become sites of disclosure, resistance and activism. These storied spaces convey the extent to which abuse and inequality has become an historically pervasive and recognized aspect of women’s experience in the film industry and of the structural fabric of Hollywood. 

This volume seeks a range of original essays that explore film, television and other media narratives depicting inequality and abuse as part of women’s professional and personal lives in Hollywood. The book aims to address both fictional and non-fictional narratives and to explore historical and contemporary case studies.

Areas of interest might include but are not limited to:

•	Conflict between Hollywood mythology and exposure of female experience in backstudio pictures and stardom films
•	Narratives of stars and other actors, directors, screenwriters, producers, costume designers
•	Implicit and explicit exposure in scandal magazines 
•	The use of autobiography by female stars to construct alternative narratives 
•	Screen narratives of Hollywood as activism
•	Documentary and alternative histories of Hollywood
•	Intersectional inequality in the experiences of women of colour
•	The male saviour and a patriarchal system
•	Sexual abuse as professional control
•	Depictions of the impact of ageism on women’s careers 
•	Fact and fiction boundary crossing in the biopic
•	Specific eras of inequality for women in Hollywood
•	Narratives of individual and/or collective challenges to inequality
•	Press narratives of abuse cases
•	The impact of social media on narratives of inequality and abuse 
•	Narratives of disappearance from the screen due to inequality or abuse
•	Exposing vs normalizing inequality and/or abuse through its depiction
•	Studio controls over relationships and reproductive choices 
•	Hollywood narratives framed through historical context
•	The careless mistreatment of women’s bodies in narratives of Hollywood
•	Hollywood’s emotionally abusive relationship with women
•	The impact of women writers, directors and producers on the exposure of inequality and narratives of resistance

Chapter proposals should be submitted as a 300-400 word abstract to the editor, Dr Karen McNally, at [log in to unmask] by Friday 15 July 2022. Please include an author biography of 100-150 words. Final chapters will be 6,000 to 7,000 words and due by Friday 16 December 2022. Please feel free to email with any queries prior to submission of abstracts. A leading publisher is being approached for publication.

Works Cited:

Steven Cohan, Hollywood by Hollywood: The Backstudio Picture and the Mystique of Making Movies (Oxford: OUP, 2019)

Adrienne L. McLean, All for Beauty: Makeup and Hairdressing in Hollywood’s Studio Era (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2022)

Karen McNally, The Stardom Film (New York: Wallflower-Columbia University Press, 2021)

Helen O’Hara, Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film (London: Little, Brown Book Group, 2021)


Dr Karen McNally
Reader in American Film, Television and Cultural History
London Metropolitan University

Recent Publications:

American Television during a Television Presidency (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2022)

The Stardom Film (New York: Wallflower-Columbia University Press, 2021)

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