Informed by three interlocking texts—Nathalie Sarraute’s Tropisms, Agnès Varda’s 1985 Vagabond, and Lesley Stern’s Dead and Alive: The Body as Cinematic Thing—this essay attends to a series of scenes from US films of the 1970s. Visually oriented and guided by movement, these analytic descriptions develop together a context of feminist associations that in turn runs counter to the mastery of textual analysis that is so often implicitly aligned with the “masterful” auteurs and works of the era. By moving between a series of cinematic images that home in on women’s experiences, the essay at once recognizes their shared resonances and imagines a counter narrative to dominant histories of the era and an alternative or extension to dominant theoretical fields that emerged from the era. This form of speculative criticism allows for readers to engage in acts of speculation themselves.
Criticism is always more interesting if it not only describes, but if it probes, evidences curiosity, is attuned to resonance.—Lesley Stern, “Writing/Images”1
My work in film and television studies has often been necessarily bound to speculation, whether in my attempts to conjure forgotten histories of women’s authorship, my fascination with ephemera and material objects, or my commitment to critical-affective methodological practices. Here I am turning to US feature films of the 1970s, an era about which common narratives celebrate white male directors known as “independent” makers who challenged the studio system and transformed cinematic technologies.2 Of course, this same period of cinematic liberation also coincided with a series of sociopolitical liberation movements in the United States, making increasingly visible the collective work of Black Americans, of women, and of LGBTQ communities; these movements fueled the development of feminist film theory and criticism as well. Like several other contemporary scholars focused on this arena, my research and writing are engaged in developing an alternative to the typical 1970s canon so frequently dominated by white male makers of Hollywood and independent filmmaking and to the devotion to those films that situate men (often in the throes of violence) at the center of the screen.3 Taking advantage of the opportunity of this issue to craft “speculative” and creative criticism as part of a historical and historiographical approach, I seek to liberate those dominant cinematic and historical narratives through a simultaneous experiment in form and a historiographic intervention. As I attend to a series of scenes from US feature films of the 1970s, I am therefore experimenting not only with an approach that rethinks these historical and fictional narratives but also with writerly methods, ones which are driven by film form itself.
The structure of my essay is particularly informed by a series of interlocking written and cinematic feminist texts: Nathalie Sarraute’s Modernist novella Tropisms, Agnès Varda’s 1985 film Vagabond, which was dedicated to Sarraute, and Lesley Stern’s long-form essay, Dead and Alive: The Body as Cinematic Thing, which focuses, in part, on Varda’s Vagabond.4 Each of these works are formed by segments; while this structure may appear to be fragmentary, each segment itself bears its own sense of wholeness. The segment, or sketch, is the guiding principle of Sarraute’s Tropisms. Each piece describes various figures in the midst of quotidian experiences, yet rarely are these figures named: they are simply “she” or “he” or “they.” Many bear commonalities with one another, whether through a sense of dread, concern, loneliness, or curiosity, and together they raise questions about the economies of class and gender, but the pronouns neither add up neatly to particular individuals across the sketches nor to an explicitly cohesive community as a whole. Writes Sarraute in her “Foreword”: “[M]y first book is made up of a series of moments, in which, like some precise dramatic action shown in slow motion, these movements, which I call Tropisms, come into play. I gave them this name because of their spontaneous, irresistible, instinctive nature, similar to that of the movements made by certain living organisms under the influence of outside stimuli, such as light or heat.”5
Sarraute’s cinematic description of writing may well have been one of the details that led to Varda’s investment in her work. In the case of Vagabond, made decades after Sarraute’s first experiment with literary form, the film attempts to tell a story of the life of a young woman, Mona, who was not fully known by anyone with whom she came into contact in the community where she was also found dead; each segment of the film therefore develops a kind of momentum in our understanding of her, but because of the shifts from scene to scene (and character to character, with occasional returns), that momentum is also guided by tension, even precarity. That is, we watch in starts and stops, as the movement of each moment restarts with each subsequent segment, ultimately inviting us to put together the pieces through our experience of viewing. Stern’s book-length essay Dead and Alive considers three films: The Reckless Moment (Max Ophüls, 1949), Japanese Story (Sue Brooks, 2003, Australia), and Vagabond. Like Sarraute’s work (of which there is no indication Stern was in conversation, though it appears indirectly filtered through Varda’s film), Stern’s essay is divided into separate segments; like Varda’s film, these segments together develop an understanding, yet rather than of one particular figure, our comprehension is of an idea, or a speculation about things and about film. That is, she considers the human as a “thing” through a patient focus on dead bodies animated through cinematic form and through their relations to other beings as actants, non-living or living things that “produce an effect on other things.”6 Here Stern’s description is neatly parallel to what Sarraute documents in her fictional work: “movements made by certain living organisms under the influence of outside stimuli.” As Stern goes on, “[M]y curiosity…is provoked by filmic movements, by movements in which things materialize and insist on being, demanding my attention.”7 Her work is at once densely theoretical, visually precise, and poetic in its form (at the level of each sentence and in the structure of the work as a whole). It is, moreover, propelled forward in part through a deft rhetorical trick, in which she heads each ensuing fragment with a phrase that the reader will find in the segment that follows; this is a process I have followed here, as an homage to her work. In the spirit of Sarraute, I also have left both the films and characters largely unnamed, instead largely working with third-person pronouns (however, I have included a filmography at the end of the essay); similarly, I have eschewed the first-person pronoun in what follows, even as my own descriptive writing is directed by a vulnerable and affective viewing practice. And, finally, like with Varda’s film and Sarraute’s novella, my segments are designed in a rhythm that starts and stops, yet that also bears a cumulative drive.
Thus, drawing on Sarraute, Varda, and Stern together, the design of my essay is intended to create a series of descriptive segments which “produce an effect on other things.” Like Sarraute, Stern, and, of course, Varda, I am interested in movement—the movement of women on screen (whether expansive or minute, fast or slow) and those parallel liberation movements that were a part of the cultural/historical context of these films’ productions. I am therefore drawing on film as a moving-image medium in both a structural-aesthetic and metaphorical way and, moreover, as a medium that is materially defined by segments whose continuity is a form of illusion (the notorious 24 frames a second). By moving between a series of different cinematic moments—different scenes, different films, different women on and off screen—I am interested in seeking their potentially shared resonances that can culminate in counter narratives of this era and that can act on one another to imagine alternative, or extended, critical-theoretical fields and therefore an alternative, or extended, vision of 1970s US film and the histories commonly told about it. In working with a series of segments or scenes, I am also engaging in a form of speculative writing as a method that runs counter to the “mastery” of textual analysis that is so often implicitly aligned with the masterful auteurs and works of the era. In this writerly practice driven by film theory and narrative form, my approach is also intended to invite readers, in turn, to engage in further acts of speculation—of association, of connection, of filling in the gaps.
what might have been
The car comes to a careening stop in front of a burger shack topped with a giant ice cream cone. She steps out, only to witness the car speed away as fast as it arrived. Abandoned at the edge of a strange town—both familiar and new at the same time—she stares at the car cascading back down Main Street. Her upper body twists as she looks forward and back, forward and back. What else to do now but to walk back to the window of the shack, where a worker offers a wordless gesture of kindness through the other side of the glass: a soft-serve vanilla cone that she sets on the counter through the open window. She picks it up, leans against the counter, and continues to shift her look from one to the other direction, as if aimless or indecisive amidst the sounds of the passing cars.
Before she has a chance to devour the cone, she’s wandering through a mall, caught in the reflection of a shop window behind a large blonde mannequin. She drifts past a series of these artificial women, as if staring at what-might-have-been—all slightly off-kilter mirrors of herself, each standing in confident poses. Ready for the future, they are dressed in fall colors and styles, while she appears before them in her summer blouse and slacks. Their brunette, blonde, and red wigs fall around each of their faces—long or bobbed, curly or straight—but the last one she comes upon isn’t so much unlike hers, is it? This mannequin wears a blonde up-do with three coils on top of her head, her bangs cut neatly around her immobile face. The wanderer wears bangs, too, her blonde ponytail pulled atop her head like a doll whose hair you can lengthen by a tug or shorten by the push of a button on the doll’s back. She glances up and then shifts her gaze again, as if at nothing at all in front of her, yet as she moves away she looks back one last time at the lifeless almost-likeness of herself.
She meanders across the mall’s corridor and then she’s suddenly moving in the same direction down a street past shop windows and neighborhood inhabitants who stand about in small groups as she passes by. She’s the unknown woman here, stopping only to stare at Spanish-language movie posters before she steps toward the cinema’s glass door, which catches her own reflection as she counts her money before it and passes through. Now she slumps in a chair before the screen, where she can finally get some rest among the company of strangers before she’s robbed at the movies.
weary and walking
Back and forth, walking again, she could be staggering forever across the pavement. Weary and walking. Her purse stolen, she’s barefoot, grasping the straps of her shoes in her hand in lieu of the handle of her handbag. When she’s not walking, she’s often at her post at the window. Her gaze outward seems aimless, but this is when she remembers. She remembers walking, the hot street her Sisyphean hill. And she remembers the cries of a woman who wants to jump off the edge of a building, while neighbors below beg her to climb off. Suddenly she is there with her, pleading for her to not take her baby with her, removing the baby from her arms, leaving this woman to return from the edge alone.
all this time she’s moving
A woman walks in the city, three children on either side of her, who peel off for work and school one by one. First the oldest gets a kiss on the cheek before he turns around, then the three girls say their goodbyes—a kiss to one, then to another. The littlest one shoots off quickly behind her older sisters but then breaks away to return to her mother, who bends down to give her a peck by her nose. Now just two boys are left; the middle one holds his books and a form, while the other grips his mother’s arm with his right hand and his red plaid lunchbox with his left. The younger son shares a kiss with his mother, while the older one trades his books and form for her purse. She reads and signs the paper. All this time she’s moving—she can’t miss her bus. It passes her as it makes its way to her stop, and she returns the form to her son before running to catch it. Almost too late, her son realizes he’s still holding her purse and chases down the bus, knocking at the doors so he can hand off the bag. As the bus starts up down the street, she moves in the other direction down its aisle. Opposite directions, yet movements in sync.
brilliant new talent
A husband and wife take a morning jog together on a path between the highway and the river. Suddenly they stop—the man has stepped in dog shit and holds his shoe outwards like a petulant child waiting for his mother to take away the soiled sneaker. His wife humors him—she’s not afraid of a little crap, and what woman hasn’t had to clean up this business before? But then they bicker. When she chides him for lighting a cigarette after a two-and-a-half-mile run, he declares: The more I’m married to you, the more you sound like my mother. Now she tosses his shoe back at him, and he tosses it over his shoulder into the East River. After one last look at the lonely $35 shoe, they run up a set of stairs and make up. I’m not your mother, you know, she says as he wraps his arms around her waist. All this talk of mothers and shit has made him frisky: Do you think we have time for a little quickie? I’ve got about eleven minutes.
She glances at the door as her husband leaves after their morning romp. She turns her head slowly, her face quietly jubilant, her passion satisfied, it seems. But then she raises an eyebrow, and her look takes on another sense as she begins to speak in a voice that is hers and is not hers. She is speaking, playfully, as someone else speaking about her, imagining what it sounds like to be the subject of an announcement—to become great, heralded even: “Tonight the ballet world was introduced to a brilliant new talent, the long-awaited debut of Erica Benton.” She rises out of bed, ceremoniously, in her underwear and long-sleeved t-shirt. Continuing to narrate her “debut,” she begins to dance, pausing for a simple wardrobe adjustment, as she flicks her underwear back over her cheek. Now she moves throughout her Upper East Side apartment—“her pas-de-deux were breathtaking”—entering the dining room with the dramatic flourish of a housewife alone at last. She pauses again, grabbing a grape from a bowl of fruit and popping it in her mouth. At a large showcase window, the city behind her, she partners with a houseplant, and the imaginary violins that sound along with her come to a crescendo as she continues to twirl about the room.
you changed your hair
Three times she twists the gurneys laden with men who can no longer walk. The first time she’s at the side, a little unsteady, as the man on the table looks up at her, describing his return from war. They don’t tell you anything about going back to society. She is distracted; she wants to listen, but she is also just learning how to navigate these contraptions, her coiffed hair and pearls not quite a match for the work she’s doing. As she wheels the gurney into a line with other men waiting, he continues. What about your sex life? They don’t tell you anything about that…What if my gizmo busts? What if I have a bowel movement? She heads to the foot of the table, grabbing a metal plate as he continues to talk. She hangs the sign at the back of the gurney, with a sharp clink: “Bowels and bath.”
The second time she’s in a van with a group of men awaiting their turn to be wheeled out. This time she’s the one doing the talking, animated in her indignation. It’s like you’ve done your duty, you’ve served your purpose, they toss you into the heap. Some men wheel themselves out on chairs, half-listening, half-responding. The pearls are gone now, and she grabs each gurney almost cavalierly. She bends, pulls, and pushes each off the van. Her old high school friend calls back to her after he reaches the end of the ramp: You’re beautiful when you’re excited. She doesn’t know if she’s pleased by the compliment or frustrated that he’s missed the point.
The third time she’s greeted at the door by her friend, the former high school quarterback, who has rolled up in his new wheelchair. He pulls open the door while she walks backwards with the gurney in front of her. She’s taken aback when she sees him: You got a chair! He notices her new perm: You changed your hair! Is he laughing at the rhyme he’s just made or is he giddy to see her appear from the door? She continues moving backwards down the ramp while he steadies the gurney at the top with one hand, holding onto the rail to steady himself with the other. As she reaches the bottom, her expression changes. She straightens herself up: Would you like to come over for dinner? He glances at the pavement, a cocky guy suddenly silent. She moves around the gurney to push it from the top. Mid-twirl she smiles: I’m a good cook. One glance back and she continues forward.
The wheels on the tables she pushes are barely visible, yet each moment is filled with the sense of turning—a rotation in direction, a shift in understanding, an energetic transformation. Is she serving them? Is she moving for them when they are forced to lie prone? Is she controlling them, overpowering them? None of these scenarios is quite right. But her own body is strengthening as she grows in comprehension of the men’s experiences and of the politics of war. All the while, bubbling under her strength and compassion is the hint of desire. I’m a good cook.
no womenfolk no time
She steps up onto the lawn from the street. It’s a hot summer day—her white floral dress clings to her dark brown skin, the fabric stained by the sweat across her chest and her underarms, even at her waist—but she’s moving at a fast clip, a bag in one hand, a handkerchief in another. She disappears behind a row of trees, emerging at the same continuous pace. And then she’s hidden again, this time by a massive white column, and then another and another. Each time she reappears undeterred, just part of the rhythm of walking through the sort of long outdoor hallways you see in southern towns that don’t have to contend with harsh winters. But it’s also more than that: these intractable buttresses seem designed to make her invisible. After all, this open-air corridor leads to the sheriff’s office, and she’s on a mission to find her husband.
Once inside, the sheriff refuses her. Well it’s simple. That’s the rules. I follow ‘em. Ain’t no visitin’ except Sunday and holidays. No womenfolk no time. She bends closer when he speaks, as if to better understand what he could be saying. Her voice barely breaks as she tries to insist, as she questions the lawmaker’s rule. And with an unctuous look—is that a cheap glint in his eye?—he makes the false promise, or maybe it’s a threat, to drive out to your place and let you know when her husband Nathan’s court date is set. She moves slightly toward a locked door with a darkened window at about head level. She considers. The sheriff calls her name. She turns to leave. You’ve got your low-life job, Mr. Sheriff.
Outside she steps into the street—nearly hit by a honking truck. It’s the first time she’s truly startled; she gathers herself, forging ahead to cross. As she enters the grocery shop, she dumps her heavy paper bag on the counter without any hint of ceremony. The grocer reminds her that she’s behind on her credit and can’t get anything more than the $1.20 for the walnuts she’s delivered, but she moves through the aisles with her back to him—an act of bravery in a country store. She doesn’t want credit; she just wants a few things for trade. Flour, nutmeg, chocolate, extract, two eggs, and some sugar. The fixings for a cake, and on a hot day like this. She packs her bag as the grocer harangues her about her husband’s wrong-doing. That looks bad on me. I been good to you all. Didn’t I go to the trouble of getting the people in Lansdown to let your David go to their school? Didn’t I? She continues packing as he continues talking, refusing his gaze. But as he shouts, her hand rests for a moment in the middle of her task, hovering lightly over a jar of vanilla before she adds it along with a little can of Ben Hur nutmeg. Her face never flinches when she responds, punctuating her final words in staccato form. If her husband isn’t home by cropping season, she tells him, Believe me, the children and me will do the cropping. We have to. Because we owe you all that money. Mr. Perkin.
that’s going to cost you more
Oh, that’s so exciting, she tells him. But that’s going to cost you more. Just a breathless whisper now: That’s fantastic. And then a little louder, a little crisper: That’s gonna be a hundred. Now she’s walking home, her left arm wrapped around potted yellow chrysanthemums, surely bought with some of the extra she just made. She’s about half a block from the intersection, surrounded mostly by men either leaning against buildings or walking toward her, another sitting on the pavement against the iron bars of a closed shop. She crosses against the light, never breaking the rhythm of her pace. All we hear is the sound of traffic and the clicking of her boots against the concrete. A working woman heading back to her apartment right next door to the Buckley Funeral Home.
sounds of a party
I’ll never do another wedding again, she tells her friend. But in this neighborhood laundromat in the middle of the day, her friend asks that she make an exception for her own wedding. Her face shifts from surprise to an attempt at gladness, and then, after an embrace, to something like sorrow or betrayal. And in another instant are a series of black and white photographs and the sounds of a party—music and toasts and the request for the photographer to appear in a photo herself. The sounds continue as the scene comes into color. She covers her wall with deep red paint, her body emerging slowly into view as she moves horizontally across the room. Gliding the roller up and down with one hand, her white arm and auburn hair are in contrast to the reddening wall. As she nears the end, she grasps the handle with both hands. The cheers from the unseen party subside into the noise of traffic outside, a siren in the distance, and the faint audible traces of the painter’s labor.
yes, she can dance
On the elevated train, she’s sketching. She’s not designing the assignment of a “basic swimsuit” for the class she’s just left—that means no sequins, no rhinestones, no ostrich feathers, the white teacher added directly to her as she passed by her desk—but a gown. The kind of gown that demands one to have confidence to wear, one that falls and moves with the wearer’s body, one that will be guided by her. As the train stops at a station, she looks out her window to see two kids spray-painting a wall on the platform. Her handiwork takes on the same speed in brief flurries, as if her pencils were cans of paint spraying across the page. Little ecstasies erupt across her face when she looks up at her young muses and then turns back to her work. Already anchored by gold on each side, reds and browns begin to dominate to match the newly cast shades on the train platform. As she adds a streak of purple and then a shot of green, the gown takes on the energy of the artist herself. Not long after, she’ll be wearing this gown: a loose bodice the full colors of the rainbow, brighter than the hues of the repainted “L” platform, is still anchored by the golden yellow on either side, falling over a close-fitting yellow slip. She is lifting her arms, and the top of the gown opens up like a multicolored fan. Taking a break from her job as an assistant at a department store, she shares the realization of her design with a photographer. He gestures for music to play and then taunts her: Can you dance? Can you move? Yes, she can dance. Picking up speed as she glides through the department store’s back rooms, amongst pale lifeless mannequins and a makeshift portrait studio, she spins and twirls for the camera like a modern-day Annabelle Moore. The dress nearly engulfs her in its sea of swirling colors, but her face—her face—overshadows even her own creation. Her eyes more vibrant than even the multicolored gown, in this brief moment it is as if she is on a stage of her own making: ecstatic before her audience.
on the verge of love
Behind the curtain, they are leading her back toward the stage, like the aged parents of a middle-aged child. A woman takes her arm, gingerly and adoringly leading her as she slowly regains her ability to walk, one foot in front of the other. A stagehand carries her suitcases in one arm. As they pause before her return to the stage, he moves closer to her to whisper; she bends slightly toward him as he speaks. I’ve seen a lot of drunks in my day. But I’ve never seen anyone as drunk as you and still be able to walk. You’re fantastic. And with these last two words, he’s gushing—his face reddening, his mouth and eyes beaming, on the verge of love. Her hair covers much of her face, but the hint of a smile appears in the curve of her mouth. Thank you, Bobby. She stands straighter, takes another drag from her cigarette. Leaving the cigarette in her mouth, she stares forward while her hand reaches toward him. He places a suitcase in her grip. He takes her cigarette and puts it in his own mouth as he adjusts her props. A suitcase now in each hand, she moves to the stage, alone.
Back in character, she seems on the verge of rolling her eyes or scowling in response to the acrobatics—verbal, physical—of her co-star, her on-stage husband. Off-stage she can barely walk; on-stage she swaggers. And then there’s her face. Every feeling is framed by the magnified drama playing across it. How does she do it? Each muscle seems to move in a different direction. Lips pursed, her eyebrows raise; mouth open, her eyes roll. She’s grimacing. She’s smiling. She’s angry. She’s despondent. She’s acting. And she is glorious. She improvises, takes control. And the audience can’t take their eyes off her. Glass of scotch in one hand and a cigarette in another, she is bathed in red—skirt, blouse, jacket, lipstick—the color of the phone, of the lampshade, the carpet, the cap of the bottle of scotch in her hand. Like a halo askew, her blonde hair stays firmly in place as she sits, then stands, then moves across the room. If we need touching, we can touch each other, she tells him.
her torso, her chest, her heart
The dog knows before she does, his raised head followed by a whine, then a bark and a howl to alert her. She puts down her handiwork to ask the hound what’s wrong. The dog takes off running toward the figure in the distance. As the dog reaches him, recognition comes over her: for a moment it’s as if she can’t breathe, and then her entire face loosens, his very name issued forth as a breath of relief. Nathan! She takes flight from the porch, running toward him, calling his name again and again. Her children follow from their posts in the yard—all of them running and calling at once. But our focus is on her, as she runs with her whole body, arms outstretched, propelled and teetering at the same time. Every inch of her moves toward him, led by her torso, her chest, her heart—arms alternately crooked at the elbow and then outspread again. As she shivers and cries, her face is covered in the ecstasy of joy and pain at once—the pain of his absence acute in the moment of his return from the prison camp. It’s as if she’s running across space and time: the past of his disappearance behind her, she speeds toward the imminent future of their reunion. He drops his cane to run toward her as well, and she is suddenly, powerfully in his arms, their bodies wrapped around one another, pockets of blue from his shirt and her headwrap in sync with one another. When they embrace, desire seems to overwhelm them both, if only for a brief second, and they are lost in one another just before their children join them. He greets each one, as she hovers close by, her hand brushing against his back. As she shifts closer again, his hand is now on her neck, fingers just below her ear, and he pulls her in again for another embrace before the family walks, intertwined, back to the house.
she continues forward
A painting is lowered from the window of a SoHo loft down to the street on a makeshift pulley. A woman grips one side, a man takes the other. They ease it to the sidewalk together. He asks her to hold it a minute, and she stands behind its edges, steadying the giant artwork that’s almost as tall as she is and certainly many times wider. Then he walks to his car, preparing to head to Vermont, bidding her goodbye. What about this? She nods at the painting she’s keeping level for him. Oh, that’s for you. Left with the task of getting it home, she grabs the cords held in place on its back and begins to walk down the street. As she continues forward, the painting becomes an albatross around her neck, over her shoulders, leaning into her whole body. Her arms gripping it near its top and bottom, she spins around, and then the painting seems to lead the way as she moves from behind. Nearing a restaurant stoop, the painting threatens to knock into the people she passes by. One woman rights the spinning art while a man stands idly watching the scene. Now she’s on Broadway, and the area teems with people and traffic. She leans the painting against a corner lamppost, letting go of its back. At last liberated, she lightly brushes it with her hand as she passes it, prepared to join the rest of the crowd as they move through the city.
Bush Mama (Haile Gerima, 1975/1979)
Claudine (John Berry, 1974)
Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978)
Girlfriends (Claudia Weill, 1978)
Klute (Alan J. Pakula, 1971)
Mahogany (Berry Gordy, 1975)
Opening Night (John Cassavetes, 1977)
Sounder (Martin Ritt, 1972)
An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky, 1978)
Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970)
I wish to thank the students in my Fall 2021 “Film Essay” seminar at Amherst College for reading and responding to an early draft of this work, especially Victor Bowman-Rivera and, most especially, the audacious Bui Linh Ngoc. With much appreciation also to Allyson Nadia Field for her vision for this issue and for her keen guidance.
Lesley Stern, “Writing/Images.” The Cine-Files 4 (Spring 2013) http://www.thecine-files.com/current-issue-2/guest-scholars/lesley-stern/.
This current essay is a companion piece to other work I’ve written and presented concerning both American film production and English-language feminist film criticism of this same era, including in this journal. See, for instance: “The ‘Whatness’ of Ms. Magazine and 1970s Film Criticism,” Feminist Media Histories 1:3 (Summer 2015): 4–37; “Genealogies of a Decade: Classifying and Historicizing Women of the New Hollywood,” forthcoming in Women and New Hollywood: Gender, Creative Labor, and 1970s American Cinema, edited by Aaron Hunter and Martha Shearer (Rutgers University Press); the collectively written “Camera Obscura’s Archive for the Future” (co-authors Amelie Hastie, Lynne Joyrich, Patricia White, and Sharon Willis), Camera Obscura 61 (Spring): 1–25; and a series of my Film Quarterly “Vulnerable Spectator” column from issues 71:3 to 72:4.
As a sample of such rethinking, see: Nathalie Léger, Suite for Barbara Loden, translated by Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon (DorothyProject, 2016); Maya Montañez Smukler, Liberating Hollywood: Women Directors and the Feminist Reform of 1970s American Cinema (Rutgers University Press, 2018); Anna Backman Rogers, Still Life: Notes on Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970) (Punctum Books, 2021); and Aaron Hunter and Martha Shearer, eds., Women and New Hollywood: Gender, Creative Labor, and 1970s American Cinema (Rutgers University Press, forthcoming), a volume based on their groundbreaking 2018 conference at Maynooth University.
Nathalie Sarraute, Tropisms, translated by Maria Jollas (New Directions Publishing Corp, 2015). Her novella was originally published in 1939, and the recent New Directions edition is based on a revised edition: Les Éditions de Minuit (1957). Lesley Stern, Dead and Alive: The Body as Cinematic Thing (Caboose, 2012).
Sarraute, Tropisms, vii.
Stern, Dead and Alive, 11.
And she goes on, “But there is something else that insists—all three bodies, as I have said, seem to be filled with time and in turn to introduce a certain temporality into the film.” Stern, 21.