Frankfurt Women’s Film Days, 26 November – 1 December 2019

Save the date for the second edition of
REMAKE: Frankfurt Women’s Film Days
Viewing History, Herstory in the Cinema

Kinothek Asta Nielsen, 26 November – 1 December 2019

Men’s history – the history of white, Western men – has blocked women’s access to their own history for centuries. This only began to change in the 20th century. In order for it to happen, fundamental criticism and an expansion of the established way of looking at the approach to and content of history and historical research were necessary.      

New fields relating to the private, the intimate and the body have opened up as women search for their history. The sharp distinction between the human as a historical being and the animal as a natural one is also questioned. (Elisabeth de Fontenay, Le Silence des bêtes, la philosophie à l’épreuve de l’animalité); we will screen Pokot, directed by Agniesza Holland, 2017 in our programme.)

Theatrical film, the mass culture of the 20th century, displays an affinity for the newly discovered areas of history in which women had their place and their living environment. The cinema was full of stories of private life, of love, of gender relations; film established awareness of the body and – at least in silent films – democracy among humans, animals and the tangible world. At REMAKE, we will screen the Swedish film Thora van Deken (John W. Brunius, 1920) and John M. Stahl’s The Child Thou Gavest Me (1921). In both films, the look back at history plays an illuminative role: the male gaze breaks off, and awareness of women’s reality becomes possible.

When the women’s movement discovered film for itself in the 60s and 70s, theoreticians saw their task as uncovering this affinity once again. They began with radical criticism of the cinematic forms in which male dominance reproduced itself, the narrative and dramatic forms that had existed since ancient epics and Greek tragedy and were repeated in film. Teresa de Lauretis established a connection between narrative forms and the mental formation of gender roles. In “Desire in Narrative”, she advocated, among other things, that classical Hollywood films be remade to call forth a different view of history. In our programme, this aspect will be represented in particular by two Westerns – the masculine genre par excellence –  that were made by women filmmakers.

Amateur films, or films that work with home movie material, are an important part of our programme because they contain not fictional but documentary footage of private life. They comprise a view from below on societal and political history (Absent Present, Angelika Levi 2010; Ums freiwerden hätte es ja gehen sollen, a film by actress and author Elfriede Irrall about her mother, 1977)

But the break with “male cinema”, the standard phrase in the 70s, also opens awareness of our affinity with others who have been denied their own history: the suppressed classes and ethnicities, the old and new slaves. It becomes possible to feel closer to the lives of ‘others’ depicted in films than to the men who provide a position for their women in society. Not least with a view to the centrality of Hollywood in our cinema past and present, we will screen two films by Julie Dash: Illusions and Daughters of the Dust. The latter explicitly thematises a differing view of history.

Films are relevant for the Frankfurt Women’s Film Days when they address the doubly hidden role of women in suppressed German and European history. Das falsche Wort (Melanie Spitta and Kathrin Seybold) and Beneath the Olive Tree (Stavroula Tosca) are two such films that we will screen at REMAKE.

For more information please go to


‘Hauntings in the Archive’: London Feminist Film Festival 2017


In this two-part blog, we have three viewpoints on the recent London Feminist Film Festival. For the WFTHN network, Selina Robertson and Ania Ostrowska and, separately, Elaine Burrows share their impressions of a session which raised key questions about politics in the feminist archive.

This week, Ania and Elaine respond to the European premiere of Hauntings in the Archive! (2017).  Next week, we will feature an exclusive, extended extract from Selina’s presentation on the Rio Cinema archive specialising in queer and feminist films. Finally, our writers will reflect on the concluding discussion, which featured crucial questions of archives and intersectionality.

Performing ‘Hauntings in the Archive!’ (Spukem im Archiv!’) (2017) © SKGAL

Ania Ostrowska writes:

This August, the London Feminist Film Festival returned for the sixth time with great success and sold out screenings, including that of Iranian director Marva Nabili’s 1977 feature The Sealed Soil, which took place at BFI Southbank’s largest screening room NFT 1. All other events happened at the East London’s beloved independent, the Rio Cinema. On Saturday 19 August 2017, in the early afternoon, we participated in the session ‘Feminism and the Archive’:  Selina presented her doctoral research on stage (details next week) whilst Ania engaged less stressfully from the audience. The event showcased the European premiere of a feature-length Austrian documentary Hauntings in the Archive! (2017) and a panel discussion with Julia Wieger (the film’s co-director), Althea Greenan (curator of Women’s Art Library held at Goldsmiths University, London) and Samia Malik (of Women of Colour Index reading group which explores Women’s Art Library catalogue to make visible the work of Women of Colour artists). Following from the detailed focus on three feminist archives from the UK and Austria, the closing discussion included audience members and asked broader questions around feminist archives and feminist approaches to an archive.[i]

Hauntings in the Archive!

Hauntings in the Archive!, co-directed by Julia Wieger and Nina Hoechtl, dives into the rich Vienna-based archive of VBKÖ, the Austrian Association of Women Artists. Wieger and Hoechtl, both the association’s members, established the internal Secretariat for Ghosts, Archive Politics and Gaps (SKGAL) to revisit the organisation’s history and conjure up the spectres of the past that some of their contemporaries would, even now, rather see left in peace.

VBKÖ was established in 1910 and it became obvious for us in the audience that, after its rather progressive early history of collaborating with Austrian women’s rights movement of the time, the 1930s saw it reflect the spectre of National Socialism. The filmmakers discussed in the Q&A a disturbing resistance to a wider acknowledgment of this history. Equally disturbing to them was a cultural appropriation of Native American culture in the 1960s and 1970s through VBKÖ-exhibited, romanticised portraits of Native Americans, painted by its members. It was an artistic style which the film’s directors situated in the broader context, relating Nazi cultural fascination with ‘tribal ancestors’ to the interest in both North America and India.

Recovering complicated his/her-story: ‘Hauntings in the Archive!’ (2017) © SKGAL

The project has strong theoretical underpinnings, made manifest in the film by voiceover recorded in three languages (we watched the English version). Foucault and Derrida are referenced, the latter via Specters of Marx (1993) rather than Archive Fever. Ann Cvetkovich is never mentioned by name but her work on trauma and affect in the archive from An Archive of Feelings (2003) resonates here as well. After conventional documentary opening shots, detailing the types of items held in the archive and acid-free folders, the documentary comes into its own as a powerful two-hander, with the two director-authors often present in the frame, self-reflexively performing their investigation/exorcism. The film brought to life key questions of time and history in its presentation of archival material on screen, with sequences showing old photos and documents being laid out on the table by a pair of hands with brightly painted nails sometimes disturbed by another, ‘aggressively’ black leather-gloved pair of hands.

Archival material is thus made contemporary and shown to be important now to the current young generation of Austrian feminist artists.

Elaine Burrows writes:

Coincidentally, the London Feminist Film Festival screening of Spuken in Archie! (Hauntings in the Archive!)  took place in the middle of the furore surrounding the pulling down of statues of figures of the American Civil War.  An interesting question: what do you do with a past that you or anyone else finds unsavoury?  It is your history, after all; it is also part of your country’s history.  At the very least, denying that that past exists is to falsify that history.

Hauntings in the Archive! is an attempt to pose the question, without necessarily expecting to formulate definitive answers.  As its programme note says, it:

“reflects on and exposes the his/herstory/ies of the Austrian Association of Women Artists ([Vereinigung bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs] VBKÖ) through its century-old archive of letters, photos, catalogues and thousands of other documents. The Secretariat for Ghosts, Archive Politics and Gaps [Sekretariat für Geister, Archivpolitiken und Lucken, SKGAL] curates the material to conjure up the spectres of the multiple lives of the VBKÖ that meet and share the scene in the film: ghosts of national socialism encounter colonial fantasies and old and new feminist agencies.”

The VBKÖ website explains that, in 2013:

“The new Secretariat shall enable a critical analysis and examination of the association’s history. In particular, the role of the VBKOE during the course of Austrofaschism and Nationalsozialism will be discussed, alongside the association’s class-specific and colonial entanglements.

“The Secretariat establishes connections between projects, investigations and discussions by different authors and in various formats setting up a continual, multi-perspective and collective historical work. The structures and methods of the Secretariat will enable the continual analysis of historical narratives anew and create a space in which historical works can be learnt and unlearnt. Thereby, feminist and decolonizing perspectives will be integrated and debates will be made public.”

The VBKÖ was established in 1910 by a group of mainly middle-class women artists to support women and their art by lobbying for “improvements in artistic, economic and educational conditions, and to increase their representation, organising international collaborations”, and by providing exhibition spaces.   Several of its members became, to say the least, sympathetic to National Socialist policies.  Those who were Jewish were forced out.

The film shows documents and images from the VBKÖ archive, as well looking at a group of women on a tour of the premises, of rooms in the archive, and projections of a photograph of the (almost all as yet unidentified) members in the 1930s.  The documents – laid out individually, one on top of the other – consist of Minute books, letters, application forms, reproductions of paintings by members, and so on.  Commentary is occasionally direct to camera, but often consists of voice-over whispered questions about how to deal with the history represented.  Elsewhere, the soundtrack consists largely of quotations, many from women – Julie M Johnson’s book The Memory Factory (2012) looms large, but includes Derrida and Foucault’s musings on the nature of archives.  A question remained for me about when the decision to look archive critically was made, and when someone began to seriously examine what its contents represents, to explore those questions of the country’s past.

The trailer is available here and further information about the project can be found at

Ania Ostrowska is a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton (UK), researching authorial agency of contemporary British women documentarians as part of AHRC-funded project Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary UK Film Culture. Since 2011 she has been a film editor of popular British feminist blog: The F-Word.

Elaine Burrows worked for many years at what is now the BFI National Archive. She has been a member of WFTHN since it was founded, and is also a longstanding member of the boards of both Cinenova and the British Entertainment History Project.

[i] Please see our 2015 blog entry on Feminist Archives, Feminist Futures at Leeds University|:

Image Credit: Nina Hoechtl and Julia Wieger / Secretariat for Ghosts, Archival Politics and Gaps, SPUKEN IM ARCHIV! (Hauntings in the Archive!), 2017, film still. Camera: Liesa Kovacs, Nick Prokesch

Symposium Report: Missing Women Study Day

Symposium Report: Missing Women Study Day

24th May 2017, University of Southampton

by Sarah Smyth

In this blog, Sarah Smyth reflects back on a truly interdisciplinary conversation and examines how it captured forms of ‘missing women’ across institutions and cultures.

When two of my PhD colleagues, Mariana Thomas and Sophie Cavey, and I sent out our call for papers for a study day titled ‘Missing Women’, we had no idea of the overwhelming response we would receive. From a broad range of disciplines, from universities beyond the UK, and from academics either beginning their career or well-established, the idea of the “missing woman” resonated. We had over sixty abstracts for what was supposed to be a half-day conference, with people keen to tell us about the exciting, provocative, and diverse work they are doing to uncover, or recover, the missing women in their field. Our anger at women’s continued marginalisation was legitimised. With this number of academics raging with us, we knew our study day would prove a timely, important and necessary intervention into conventional discourses that continue to position women as “missing”.

Photo 1:

Our poster for the Missing Women study day

The idea for our study day was to provide an interdisciplinary conference at the University of Southampton, which facilitated the discussion of women whose creative or historical contributions have been unjustly forgotten or overlooked. Exclusion, neglect, or omission from analysis has been the undue fate for many women throughout history. Their contributions and representations have all too often been dismissed or forgotten, resulting in the absence of female voices.

Our half-day conference grew to a full day. We successfully secured more money from funding bodies including the Graduate School for Humanities and the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Writing both at the University of Southampton. We built a programme of nine speakers, ending with a special roundtable to celebrate the work of Professor Clare Hanson from the English department at the University of Southampton. Disciplinary diversity was immediately evident, with speakers from the departments of Philosophy, Film, History, Middle Eastern Studies, and English across a range of academic institutions. Thisensured a variety of methodologies – archival work, data collection, close-textual analysis, theory – and a wide time-period, from early writing on ʿĀ’isha, wife of the Prophet Muhammad, to contemporary cinema. We had intended our programme also be inclusive and diverse in a much wider sense. In our call for papers, we explicitly encouraged contributions on women of colour, transwomen, queer women, and disabled women, and targeted specific institutions and groups where this research is being done. However, the abstracts we received were overwhelming about white, cis-gender, straight, able-bodied women. During our introduction to the day, then, we acknowledged the missing women from ‘Missing Women’: the women whose work is still marginalised or neglected, or whose work is more difficult to find in the academy.

Photo 2

Jennifer Scott delivering her paper, ‘The Princess and the Press: The Embodied and Disembodied Personalities of Marie Corelli’

The day proved to be a huge success. We had a large number of people attend the conference, and this generated an ongoing and dynamic conversation throughout the day. People particularly noted how warm and inclusive the atmosphere was, something we were heartened to hear since we wanted everyone to feel welcome and valued in the space. The first panel on the theme ‘performing women’ led to discussions over how womanhood is “performed” inside and outside texts. Sofia Rehman’s paper on ʿĀ’isha and Jennifer Scott’s paper on Victorian novelist Marie Corelli revealed contrasting ways in which women have control or autonomy over the performative aspects of their womanhood or femininity. While Sofia demonstrated how ʿĀ’isha’s voice becomes muted as she took positions in opposition to other, invariably male, companions of the Prophet, while Jennifer examined studio photographs of Corelli to argue that these formed spectral sequels to her own works, which countered the press’ tendency to control women’s bodies. Panel Two considered the different ways women can be subversive. Islam El-Naggar drew out how Radwa Ashour’s Granada contained a complicated and nuanced portrayal of the feminist traces in Andalusian Muslim culture. Jenni Råback considered the ways in which we “frame” Vanessa Bell who so often gets eclipsed by her more famous sister, Virginia Woolf. A clear pattern emerged, by which “subversive” elements were theorised through form and abstraction. Panel Three, titled ‘Excavating Women’, most explicitly engaged in the finding, recovery and repositioning of women in various institutional, cultural and historical contexts.

Photo 3

A key discovery by Hollie Price in the archives of the Ministry of Information’s Film Division is this letter that reads: “To maintain the required differentiation between men’s and women’s salaries is one of the Treasuries most cherished principles.”

Hollie Price considered the position of women in the wartime propaganda work in the Ministry of Information Films Division. Shelley Cobb, meanwhile, discussed her project Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary Film Culture in the UK. Both papers led to a productive discussion about women’s complicated relationship with the institutions and material when engaged in archival research. Panel Four focused on the more broader term, ‘Representing Women’. Jade French considered the way in which the older woman was marginalised in the early twentieth century due to the emergence of the figures such as ‘The Flapper’. George Mind suggested that Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition signals a new dialectic between discourses of feminism, realism and subjectivity. Finally, Sarah Osmond Smith looked at research into time in the eighteenth century, arguing   that a focus on technological, cultural, artistic, social and material advances fails to take account of gendered experiences of time. Throughout the day, the idea of how necessarily repetitive and slow, even tedious, this research can be, otherwise women will continue to be “missing” within many academic fields.

Photo 4

Sarah Osmond Smith delivering her paper, ‘Beyond the Huygens Clock-Face: Missing “Spare” Female Hours in the Eighteenth Century’

Our day finished with a roundtable dedicated to Clare Hanson and a wine reception. Here, Clare reflected on the day, noting the exciting and important work being done, and linked it to her own work, particularly her work to recover Katherine Mansfield as a key literary figure. Turning to the future of feminist academic work, perhaps most profoundly, Clare told us the key way to continue to produce feminist research and to ride the waves of feminism as it goes in and out of fashion in wider culture was through intergenerational connections. By explicitly connecting to our feminist foremothers and our feminist daughters, we can safeguard against women going “missing”, ensuring their/our contributions are fully recognised, guaranteeing their/our voices are always heard, and making certain that their/our work will have a lasting impact for many generations to come.

Sarah Smyth is a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton. Her PhD is part of the project, Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary Film Culture in the UK (funded by the AHRC), and examines the ways in which a number of women filmmakers in contemporary Britain conceptualise and represent space. You can follow her on Twitter @sarahsmyth91.

My Mum was a Feminist in the 1970s: Radical Feminism in ‘Fresh Meat’


My Mum was a Feminist in the 1970s: Radical Feminism in Fresh Meat

 Susan Berridge

In her CST Online blog on the Channel 4 sitcom Fresh Meat, Susan Berridge considered the portrayal of feminism itself through its recurring characters, leading on to key questions for creatives and academics alike concerning fictional portrayals on television: “Regardless of whether the feminist scholar celebrates or condemns an individual text, the polemical question of how feminist the text is prevails.”

Susan Berridge’s contribution was first published with CST Online on 9th January 2014. Many thanks to Kim Akass, editor, and the individual contributors, for giving permission for their articles to appear here. These and other articles can be accessed in CST’s archive on their current website here.

We welcome further contributions on aspects of women’s work in television and on related questions of representation, audiences and authorship and institution.

In the introduction to their 2006 edited collection, Joanne Hollows and Rachel Moseley reflect on the decision to name their book Feminism in Popular Culture rather than Feminism and Popular Culture, arguing that ‘the idea of feminism and popular culture tends to presume that a “real” and “authentic” feminism exists outside of popular culture, and offers a position to judge and measure feminism’s success or failure in making it into the mainstream’ (p. 1). Instead, they note that their own initial encounters with feminism were through popular culture, including television. As they explain, ‘it was feminism in popular culture that formed the basis for later feminist identifications and politics’ (p. 2). With this in mind, this blog considers how feminism is negotiated in a recent episode of Channel 4’s university-based sitcom Fresh Meat (Season 3, Episode 5).


The main plot of this episode focuses on a rare visit from Vod’s hedonistic mother, interwoven with several secondary narratives involving the personal problems of the other core housemates. The storyline I’m most interested in involves Candice, the only first year student in the house, becoming in her own words, ‘radicalised’ after taking a course by an inspirational feminist lecturer. With resonances to the contemporary No More Page 3 campaign, she then embarks on a mission coined ‘object to objectification’ to stop the sale of lads’ mags in the University, later joined by fellow housemate, Howard.

A clip from Freshmeat Unlocked – an online platform launched by, which purports to offer exclusive access to the video content of the fictional characters’ smart phones as ‘part of Channel 4’s ongoing viewer engagement strategy’ – gives a useful taster of the storyline. Candice’s video is made with the purpose of explaining feminist aims to Howard. (In previous episodes it is hinted that Candice is growing increasingly attracted to Howard and this episodic narrative pushes their relationship further).

From watching this brief clip, it seems that feminism in the show is framed as a bit of a joke and not necessarily something to be taken seriously, despite Candice’s best efforts to the contrary. Reading earnestly from a dense feminist text, throwing a stack of lads’ mags to the floor and stamping on them and staring confrontationally at the camera while wearing some plastic breasts on her head without any sense of self-awareness or humour, Candice looks somewhat ridiculous. There is a sense that she is trying (and failing) to be cool and sophisticated, reinforced by the clip’s style. It has the feel of a poorly made ‘yoof’ music video, featuring the repetition of key buzz words and cheesy background dance music.

Within the wider series Candice is often depicted as out of touch with contemporary pop culture, having been home-schooled before attending university. In the episode itself, her feminist politics are interpreted by many of her housemates as yet further evidence of her disconnection, with Josie exclaiming incredulously that Candice didn’t even know who Simon Cowell was. Her politics are framed as belonging to a different, earlier generation, reinforced by Vod’s mother’s explicit rejection of feminism as something connected to her own mother. As she explains, ‘My mum was a feminist in the 70s and that is why in the 90s, we told feminism to go fuck itself!’ Indeed, Candice’s concern with the sexual objectification of women arguably connects her more with second-wave feminist politics rather than post- or third-wave feminism and the clip draws upon common myths of the second-wave feminist as overly censorious and serious. These allusions to stereotypes of the second-wave are carried through the episode in her costuming, wearing denim dungarees and a chunky knitted cardigan.

However, while Candice’s politics might be viewed as out-of-date by the majority of her housemates, there are several points in the episode where the continued relevance of feminism is emphasised, albeit often subtly. For example, her quest to stop the University from selling lads’ mags stems from the blatant sexism of one of J.P.’s former school friends, who, in response to Candice explaining her problem with the sexual objectification of women, tells her she is just jealous due to her unattractiveness. J.P.’s ‘friend’ is quite clearly the villain here, establishing Candice in comparison as a force of order. The legitimacy of Candice’s campaign is further reinforced by Howard’s gradual, albeit reluctant, feminist enlightenment throughout the episode. Although socially inept, Howard is portrayed in the series as intelligent and Candice’s lecturer’s book has a deep impact on him, despite his initial discomfort and resistance. His studious nature, being typically well-informed about issues that take his interest, lends added weight to his later realisation in the episode that there is no such thing as ‘harmless’, ‘ethically-sourced’, ‘free-range’, non-exploitative porn.

One of the most interesting moments in the narrative, to me, occurs between Howard and Oregon, when he asks her if she has ever been affected by sexual objectification. Oregon scoffs ‘no way!’, before then going on to list several instances where she has been, from being beeped at by men in white vans while walking home from school in her uniform, to being scared walking alone at night, to experiencing verbal sexual harassment at building sites, to feeling uneasy in certain types of clothing, to having a man grope and flash at her. ‘Other than that, it’s, like, no big deal’, she ends, as Howard sits looking crestfallen. Oregon’s response points to the relationship between different forms of male sexual harassment, connected by the discomfort and fear that women feel in response. This, in turn, resonates with Liz Kelly’s (1988) definition of sexual violence as a continuum.

At the same time, Oregon isn’t portrayed as particularly bothered about these experiences, seeming to accept them as a normal part of everyday life. This light-hearted tone can be attributed to the generic norms of the sitcom, but at the same time, it closes down the potential for gendered solidarity between Oregon and Candice. While Oregon is one of the series’ most politicised characters (in the following episode, she is centrally involved in a sit-in to stop a fellow student being deported), she is also often competitive with Candice, frustrated at Candice’s unwillingness to accept her as a mentor. In this episode, she frequently scorns Candice’s politics, arguing that ‘some women bang the drum, others…use words’. Indeed, Howard is the only housemate who helps Candice with her campaign. This lack of solidarity is particularly notable when compared to the support the housemates show Vod in the face of her mother’s abuse.

Ultimately, the storyline functions as a catalyst to advance Howard and Candice’s romantic relationship, which has been hinted at in previous episodes. Candice’s politics grow ambiguous when, in response to Howard’s anger that her enlightenment has ruined his enjoyment of porn, she shyly suggests they could have sex instead. Shortly after this, during her protest, she decides to ‘get [her] tits out’ to ‘fly in the face of body fascism’. At the end of the episode Howard takes on the unlikely role of knight-in-shining-armour, whipping off his top in support of Candice as she is dragged off by university security guards. Indeed, the episode centres more on Howard’s response to feminism than Candice’s and it is he who is pictured on the front page of the student magazine covering the protest. This is not necessarily surprising given that Howard is a more central character than Candice, who only moved into the student house at the start of season three. However, it also resonates with a key finding of feminist scholarship on televisual representations of rape, that white men are frequently portrayed as better feminists than female characters (Cuklanz, 2000; Projansky, 2001; Moorti, 2002). It is notable as well that the storyline is interwoven with other narratives revealing more sensitive sides to the male housemates. For example, in this episode, the usually arrogant J.P. ends up sobbing to Vod that he is heart-broken, while Kingsley embarks on a mission to make Josie have an orgasm (although, notably, this can be read as less about prioritising female sexual pleasure, and more to do with a bruised male ego).

There’s a danger here of me replicating the ‘ur-feminist’ article, identified by Charlotte Brunsdon (2006: 44). To summarise briefly, in this article the feminist scholar explores a text within the concerns and vocabulary of feminism, establishing a supposedly obvious feminist reading in which the text is dismissed as not being feminist enough. The author then mobilises her own engagement with the text and re-evaluates this dismissal, arguing that the text actually reveals the complexities of negotiating a feminist identity in the contemporary age. Underlying this work is an assumption that texts are either governed by a patriarchal and inherently sexist ideology or are able to transcend this to incorporate feminist discourses.

Regardless of whether the feminist scholar celebrates or condemns an individual text, the polemical question of how feminist the text is prevails. This assumes that there is a better, more ideal way of representing feminist issues. One of the main problems with this assumption is that it presumes that there is a ‘real’, fixed, common notion of feminism in the first place. Yet, an array of different feminisms exist making this argument rather circuitous. In the episode itself the multiple interweaving storylines and ensemble cast privilege polysemic understandings of feminism, from Candice’s full-scale celebration of second-wave politics, to Howard’s weary and reluctant acceptance to Vod’s mother’s complete rejection.

The rigidity of this approach also frequently means that the specificities of genre and narrative form are overlooked. As John Ellis points out in his cst blog, Fresh Meat can be defined as a sitcom. It is not surprising then that the feminist storyline is played largely for laughs. But, at the same time, there are moments in this episode that are extremely emotive and hard-hitting, particularly Vod’s mother’s abuse, suggesting that the series does have room to portray issues in a more serious light when it chooses to. As Ellis argues, “sitcom characters are only one laugh away from tragedy”. Ellis also points out that the housemates are bound by their vulnerability as they negotiate the transition the adulthood. Candice, in particular, is frequently portrayed as the most vulnerable, naïve and inexperienced housemate, easily influenced by others. In light of this, her feminism in this episode could be read as just another short-lived phase. However, notably, while the following episode makes no explicit mention of her campaign, she is depicted reading a feminist book.

One of the reasons Candice’s storyline stood out for me is that it mirrors the same way I came to identify as a feminist, after taking a particularly inspirational course as an undergraduate. And yet, while I didn’t explicitly identify as a feminist before this point, like Hollows and Moseley my understanding of feminism and women’s capabilities were initially formed, in large part, through watching strong female characters on TV. While I certainly don’t want to over-simplify viewer engagement or suggest a cause-and-effect relationship between what people watch and their attitudes and beliefs, I do think representations matter. Television does not present ‘a window on the world’, its representations are not reflective of reality, but nevertheless, representations are generative and productive and, thus, worth closer analysis. This analysis is arguably all the more important in light of recent news coverage of widespread sexism in university campuses across the UK (see here and here for just a couple of examples). I have no conclusive answers as to what meanings of feminism are privileged by Fresh Meat. This is open to interpretation. Instead, what this episode does is highlight how ‘the popular operates as a site of struggle over the meanings of feminism’ (Hollows and Moseley 2006: 8).

Dr Susan Berridge is Lecturer in Film and Media and a member of the Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies at the University of Stirling. Her research interests include screen representations of gender, sexuality, sexual violence and age in popular culture. She has published on these themes in relation to US and UK television drama series, the teen genre, Hollywood comedies and constructions of stardom. She is also particularly interested in serial narrative forms and issues of identification, and the gendered impact of care on practitioners working in the film and television industries.

CfP: Sound, Gender, Feminism Activism


Sound, Gender, Feminism, Activism 2016
A research event at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London

November 11th – 12th 2016

CALL FOR CONTRIBUTION Deadline July 8th, 2016

We are delighted to announce a call for the 3rd Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism research event to take place in London on November 11th and 12th 2016.

Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism is a bi-annual research event initially established in 2012 as a network for researchers, artists and performers working within intersectional fields of sound, gender, feminism and activism. SGFA::2012 delivered presentations and audio-visual artworks from thirty-six researchers, artists and performers from the UK, Europe, United States and Australia. SGFA::2014 incorporated performances, lectures, workshops and presentations from over thirty global participants. A publication that celebrates the presentations and participants from the previous two events will be launched at SGFA::2016.

SGFA::2016 seeks to query an expanded concept of White Noise. Working out from white noise’s original sonic conception of a random frequency, broad-based signal that masks everything else, white noise is all around us. White Noise is what Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman has termed a “sonic protocol” an often unquestioned norm based upon “culturally specific and socially constructed conventions that shape how sound is made, used and interpreted at a given moment”.

SGFA::2016 invites submissions for both twenty and ten minute contributions relating to the question;

How does whiteness, transmitted as an often sub-audible yet ubiquitous frequency, establish and maintain perceptual limits of what and who can be heard and how can this be changed?

How can we “confront and broadcast the underlying whiteness of the field and of the generic terms that provide so much currency in it: terms like “the listener,” “the body,” “the ear” and so on” (Stadler 2015) in ways that do not replicate racism, colonialism and gender violence but rather enable the audible transmission of alternative histories, forms, relations and ways of being.

SGFA::2016 will expand upon the previous research events through a combination of presentation formats over the course of two days; both twenty minute formal research papers and ten minute emerging researcher/artist presentations for the sharing of recent or ongoing work are sought.

This is an open call and we welcome responses from all relevant disciplines and will accept a variety of formats from academic presentations, proposals for artworks and documentation of artworks to more experimental contributions.

Please send expressions of interest, including the theme, topic and format of your presentation of around 200 words and a short biography of no more than 200 words by Friday 8th July, 2016 to

Kindly supported by CRiSAP