This article explores a kinship between aviation and cinema through the intersection of affective gender, dreams, and flying as expressed across newspaper accounts of women and flight, star discourse related to Mabel Normand and Mary Pickford, and the sexualized scenes of aerial joyriding in Abram Room’s Bed and Sofa (1927) and Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks’s Plane Crazy (1928). It argues that in order to fully understand the aviation-cinema nexus, we must dislodge it from its masculinist heritage within high modernist myths. Key to this dislodging is the reinsertion of gendered associations of the body, affect, and the senses into the modernist myth of aerial vision as a weightless, abstracted regime of the eye. The article theoretically frames this historical exploration of aviation and cinema as an exemplary case study for an expanded rethinking of affect, reception, and the senses in Miriam Hansen’s notion of cinema as vernacular modernism.
Affective Cin-aereality: Women and Aviation in Silent Cinema
Paula Amad is an associate professor in the Department of Cinematic Arts at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Counter-Archive: Film, the Everyday and Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète (Columbia University Press, 2010) and numerous articles in Representations, Camera Obscura, History of Photography, Cinema Journal, Film History, Framework, and other journals. She is currently completing a book focused on an alternative history of modern aerial vision across photography and film, from which she recently published an article in Modernism/Modernity titled “‘The World’s Heavy Gaze’: Recovering Cin-aereality in the Post-War Avant-Gardes.”
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Paula Amad; Affective Cin-aereality: Women and Aviation in Silent Cinema. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2021; 7 (2): 145–187. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2021.7.2.145
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