This follow-up to the classic text of The Monstrous-Feminine analyses those contemporary films which explore social justice issues such as women’s equality, violence against women, queer relationships, race and the plight of the planet and its multi-species.
Examining a new movement – termed by Creed as Feminist New Wave Cinema – The Return of the Monstrous-Feminine explores a significant change that has occurred over the past two decades in the representation of the monstrous-feminine in visual discourse. The Monstrous-Feminine is a figure in revolt on a journey through the dark night of abjection. Taking particular interest in women directors who create the figure of the Monstrous-Feminine, in cinema that foregrounds everyday horrors in addition to classic horror, Creed looks at a range of diverse films including The Babadook, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Nomadland, Carol, Raw, Revenge, and the television series The Handmaid’s Tale. These films center on different forms of revolt, from inner revolt to social, supernatural and violent revolt, which appear in Feminist New Wave Cinema. These relate in the main to the emergence of a range of social protest movements that have gathered momentum in the new millennium and given voice to new theoretical and critical discourses. These include: third and fourth wave feminism, the #MeToo movement, queer theory, race theory, the critique of anthropocentrism and human animal theory. These theoretical discourses have played a key role in influencing Feminist New Wave Cinema whose films are distinctive, stylish and diverse.
This is an essential companion to the original classic text and is ideal for students in Gender and Media, Gender and Horror, Gender and Film and Feminist Film theory courses.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Monstrous-Feminine In Feminist New Wave Cinema
- The Monstrous Mother As Magician: The Babadook
- Unwomen: Dare To Revolt – The Handmaid’s Tale, Film & Tv Series
- #Metoo – Rape & Revolt: Promising Young Woman, Revenge, The Nightingale.
- The Monstrous-Feminine Forgets Her Manners: Nomadland, Carol, The Assistant
- Vampires, Feminism & Ethnicity: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
- The Monstrous-Feminine As Femme Fatale, Alien & Black: Under The Skin
- Queering The Monstrous-Feminine: Jennifer’s Body, The Lure, Thelma
- Female Cannibalism & Eating The Other: Raw, Trouble Everyday, In My Skin
- Furiosa: Eco-Horror & The Woman Warrior: Spoor, Woman At War, Mad Max: Fury Road
Barbara Creed is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of six books, including The Monstrous-Feminine: film, feminism, psychoanalysis (1993), now in its ninth edition; Darwin’s Screens: evolutionary aesthetics, time & sexual display in the cinema (2009); and most recently Stray: human-animal ethics in the Anthropocene (2017). Her recent research is in feminist new wave cinema, ethics in the Anthropocene and animal/human studies. Her writings have been translated into eleven languages for publication in academic journals and anthologies. She is the director of the Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network (HRAE). Barbara has been invited to participate in international research events, including the Courtauld Institute (UK), the Yale Centre for British Art, and the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of the Sciences (US). She is active in the wider community and has been on the boards of Writers Week, the Melbourne International and the Melbourne Queer Film Festivals & film critic for The Age, The Big Issue and ABC National Radio.
"In her new book Barbara Creed identifies a radical new cinema arising in the 2000s that centres the monstrous-feminine - the focus of her groundbreaking 1993 book The Monstrous-Feminine - but no longer as the object and victim of the male horror film, rather as the subject and agent of a Feminist New Wave Cinema, as ‘a liberating and transformative figure’. She presents a fascinating and original study of the horrific in of a wide range of films, mainly directed by women but some also by men, extending and enriching our understanding of horror in film. Central to Creed’s study of these films is the idea of abjection developed by Julia Kristeva that Creed drew upon in her earlier book, but now emphasising its role in a journey of revolt and transformation, an ‘intimate revolt’ in Kristeva’s words, that is a ‘questioning of one’s own being’. It is feminism’s focus on the social and ethical, Kristeva suggests, that has led to a revalorising of sensory experience and which is central to Creed’s claim that this new cinema is feminist for, she argues, these films ‘constitute a key terrain for the exploration of ethics and lived sensory experiences of women and others who are oppressed’. The monstrous-feminine that she explores is not necessarily the conventionally ‘horrific’ but rather the unassimilable to conventional ideas of the feminine in film - in Nomadland the widowed woman, in Carol, the lesbian mother. The Monstrous-Feminine in Feminist New Wave Cinema re-writes how we may think of feminist cinema and feminine agency. It is essential reading."
- Elizabeth Cowie, Emeritus Professor of Film Studies, University of Kent, author of Representing the Woman: Psychoanalysis and Cinema
"Through a series of illuminating and inspiring analyses of queer and feminist revolt, The Return of the Monstrous-Feminine provides a compelling demonstration of the continuing relevance of the concept of the monstrous-feminine for the study of cinema. Working at the cutting-edge of psychoanalytically informed feminist film criticism, Creed offers invaluable insights into the emancipatory potentials of what she identifies as Feminist New Wave cinema. Through nuanced and sophisticated readings of a wide range of films engaging with monstrosity, Creed traces how Feminist New Wave cinema embodies a vital force for social change. This timely book, which is composed of a series of case studies of films by contemporary women directors, represents a major addition to feminist film theory and an important contribution to broader debates about gender and sexuality."
- Nicholas Chare, Professor of Art History, Université de Montréal, author of Sportswomen in Cinema
"Across a range of genres that deal with the horrific, Barbara Creed demonstrates that the concept of monstrosity has transformed into a tool of empowerment in the hands of female directors of the ‘feminist new wave cinema’. She revisits Kristeva’s notion of abjection to address the revolts against ‘the abject male’ in sexual, racial, and class aggression. In her characteristic clear writing style, in depth analyses of films and television series, as well as theoretical and feminist insights Creed manages once more to capture the spirit of the times and has written another classic book in film studies that matches the first iteration of The Monstrous-Feminine."
- Patricia Pisters, Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, author of New Blood in Contemporary Cinema: Women Directors and the Poetics of Horror