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August 2009, Week 1


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Rebecca Sullivan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 1 Aug 2009 09:31:22 -0600
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***apologies for cross-posting***

CFP: Bombshells and Brunettes: The Postwar Hollywood Sex Symbol
Panel Proposal to Society for Cinema and Media Studies
2010 Conference, Los Angeles, CA

We are currently seeking participants for the following proposed panel
presentation. Please send a 300-350 word abstract and your full contact
information to Rebecca Sullivan via e-mail, [log in to unmask] no later
than August 15th.

Postwar Hollywood cinema is marked not only by a greater explicitness in the
depiction of sex but also greater dramatic significance to the subject. With
the weakening of both the Production Code Office and the Legion of Decency,
the importation of starkly realist European films, and the rise of
independent and underground cinema, the strict containment of sexual
representation began to crack. These transformation in popular cinema were
clearly influenced by the volatility of American society. Movements such as
civil rights, the sexual revolution, and second wave feminism, alongside
sweeping liberal reforms to the social infrastructure of daily life led to a
rethinking of key American values such as personal liberty and the rights of
the individual.

Sex was a key marker of authenticity and self-awareness, incorporating a
complex set of knowledges ranging from Freudian psychoanalysis to sexology
to liberal policies on sex education. The sex symbol ­ a mainstay of the
Hollywood star industry ­ now tended to highlight internal rather than
external conflicts, and psychological introspection on personal morality
(Wexman 1993). At the same time, there lurked in these sexual debates an
undeniable eugenical impulse that linked sexual desire to race and
ethnicity, connected to both liberal arguments for the African American as
the quintessentially authentic modern subject (see Mailer 1957) and
cosmopolitan notions of foreign exoticness (Wilinsky 2001). As Richard Dyer
(1997) argues in his seminal work, White, it is difficult to unmoor race
from sex, as both are ultimately about embodied identity and reproductivity.
Thus, sex has been cast as ³dark desires² emanating from primal instincts
rather than civilized codes of bourgeois society. In the context of postwar
American popular cinema, sex was depicted as a celebration of the id and a
foregrounding of the individual over the pressures of social conformity and
group think ­ but only so far.

The intertwining of race, ethnicity and sex in popular cinema resulted in
deeply problematic systems of representation, manifest in postwar Hollywood
sex symbols. They forwarded a far franker sexuality that challenged existing
morés and values about more than just carnal knowledge. At stake was the
redefinition of the modern American individual according to new systems of
race relations, immigration and internationalism, class distinction, family
and the individual.

We invite proposals that reflect these broader concerns, including in the
areas of:
* European stars and the exotic
* Whiteness and the bombshell body
* Race and the hyper-sexed body
* Authenticity and sexuality
* Masculinity and new archetypes of male sexuality
* Women¹s sexuality and feminine containment

Panel convenors:

Hilaria Loyo
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Universidad de Zaragoza
[log in to unmask]

Dr. Rebecca Sullivan
Faculty of Communication and Culture
The University of Calgary
[log in to unmask]

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