Screen Women: Body Narratives in Popular American Film

A black and white photograph of a large dragon tattoo on a woman's back.

A photograph based on the character Lisbeth Salandar from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The class watched the film during session 5. (Image courtesy of Levy Bittencourt on Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2014



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

Using film and related popular media as our texts, this course will examine how screen "embodiments" of the woman visualize ideologies of discipline and desire in a culture in which her body has become a representation of the ability to control appetites, size and shape while investing personal and social capital in its rehabilitation as a project of endless reconstruction, redesign and maintenance. Throughout the course we will draw from feminist film theory, clinical psychology, as well as women's, gender, and cultural studies, to better understand how filmic representations of the woman's body first emerge from contemporary psychosocial contexts and then in turn shape the body ideals and internalizations, as well as the behavioral practices of the film spectator.

The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies (GCWS)

This course is part of the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies. The GCWS at MIT brings together scholars and teachers at nine degree-granting institutions in the Boston area who are devoted to graduate teaching and research in Women's Studies and to advancing interdisciplinary Women's Studies scholarship. Learn more about the GCWS.

Related Content

Emily Fox-Kales, and Suzanne Leonard. WGS.640 Screen Women: Body Narratives in Popular American Film. Spring 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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