The Woman's Film of the 1940s: Gender, Narrative, and History, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Woman's Film of the 1940s

Gender, Narrative, and History, 1st Edition

By Alison L. McKee


224 pages

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This book explores the relationship among gender, desire, and narrative in 1940s woman’s films which negotiate the terrain between public history and private experience. The woman’s film and other form of cinematic melodrama have often been understood as positioning themselves outside history, and this book challenges and modifies that understanding, contextualizing the films it considers against the backdrop of World War II. In addition, in paying tribute to and departing from earlier feminist formulations about gendered spectatorship in cinema, McKee argues that such models emphasized a masculine-centered gaze at the inadvertent expense of understanding other possible modes of identification and gender expression in classical narrative cinema. She proposes ways of understanding gender and narrative based in part on literary narrative theory and ultimately works toward a notion of an androgynous spectatorship and mode of interpretation in the 1940s woman’s film.


"The Woman’s Film of the 1940s provides a welcome focus on images of women in crisis in a key period in social history " - Sue Harper, University of Portsmouth, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction: To Speak of Love 1. Film Theory, Narrative, and the 1940s Woman’s Film 2. The Fate of One Governess: Lost Narrative, History, and Gendered Desire3. Melodrama, History, and Narrative Recovery 4. Temporality and the Past: Haunting Narratives and the Post-War Woman’s Film 5. By My Tears I Tell a Story/The "Absent" War 6. Telling the Story Differently: Toward an Androgynous Spectatorship and Interpretation

About the Author

Alison L. McKee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Television, Radio, Film, and Theatre at San Jose State University, US

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Feminism & Feminist Theory
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies