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September 1997, Week 1


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Archive Research and Study Center <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 2 Sep 1997 15:49:34 -0700
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This week on the Scary Women list, we will be discussing child fiends and
continuing our discussion of aging women.  Anyone who wishes to join the
list is encouraged to visit our web site:
If you do not have access to the web and would like to join the discussion,
please e-mail me at [log in to unmask]  In the subject line, please write
"Request to join scary women."  And in the body of your e-mail, please let
me know whether or not you can receive attachments through your e-mail account.
Descriptions of the papers by Barbara Creed and Vivian Sobchack, which are
on the web, follow:
"Baby Bitches from Hell:  Monstrous Little Women in Film" by Barbara Creed
Creed examines the figure of the monstrous little girl in films ranging from
(1973) AND CARRIE (1976).  Drawing on Julia Kristeva's notion of the abject
as that which threatens to breach the symbolic boundaries erected by
civilized society, Creed argues that Hollywood's monstrous children inhabit
the borders "between human and animal, male and female, living and dead,
clean and unclean, natural and supernatural, innocence and evil, adult and
child." As a consequence, they are both horrifying and appealing.  Dividing
her essay into three thematic categories - the mystical child, the possessed
girl, and the monstrous daughter - Creed explores the horrifying appeal of
images of corrupted innocence that proliferate on the Hollywood screen.
"THE LEECH WOMAN's Revenge:  On the Dread of Aging in a Low-Budget Horror
Film by Vivian Sobchack
Sobchack recalls the monstrously aging women in horror films she saw as a
child in the 1950s as she meditates on the anxieties that attend middle age.
Such low-budget horror films as ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958), THE WASP
WOMAN (1959), and THE LEECH WOMAN (1960) are morally charged stories that
represent the aging woman as both scary and scared, as frightening to others
as she is to herself.  Excessive by virtue of her age and gender, and doubly
monstrous in that she experiences desire even while she is no longer
perceived as desirable, the aging woman offers an alternative to the
monstrous women that feminist theory has described:  her scariness has "less
to do with sexual desire and castration anxiety than with abjection and
death."  Sobchack weaves together her own perception of aging with accounts
of abject middle-aged women from popular psychology, high theory, and
Hollywood horror film to unravel our culture's complicated response to aging
Kristen Hatch
UCLA Film and Television Archive Research and Study Center
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite