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Beholding Ourselves

Black Girls as Creators, Subjects, and Witnesses

Erin M. Stephens and Jamaica Gilmer

The bus was full of excited chatter as it pulled up in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (known universally as The Met) on Fifth Avenue on a cold morning in January. Thirteen girls, along with invited loved ones, had traveled for nine-and-a-half hours from Durham, NC, to view their art displayed in the exhibit, “Pens, Lens, and Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project” (hereafter, “Pens, Lens, and Soul”). First, the girls filed off the bus to take a photograph on the steps of The Met. As their family and friends waited to disembark, they laughed and shivered while posing for numerous photographs and videos on the cold steps. As they stood at the bottom of the steps of the grand prestigious museum, the impressiveness of their accomplishment was just beginning to dawn on many of them. As she walked around the exhibit one of the artists would comment, “I feel surprised because I didn’t realize it was this big of a thing and I was here and it’s a thing, it’s a big thing … we are capable of doing anything.”

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“Because There Are Young Women Behind Me”

Learning from the Testimonios of Young Undocumented Women Advocates

Carolina Silva

In this article, I discuss the experiences of young undocumented Latinas, aged between 19 and 22, in a university support and advocacy group for undocumented students. While recent research has investigated the advocacy of undocumented youth, there is a lack of attention on the experiences of undocumented women who advocate. To address this gap, I center the testimonios (testimonies) of five young undocumented women to examine their advocacy experiences. As a result of advocacy, the young women gained visibility as immigrant youth leaders, created a pipeline of support for other young undocumented women leaders, and faced disapproval from educators. I conclude by suggesting that schools and educators can foster the leadership of young undocumented women and acknowledge advocacy as a legitimate tool for social justice in education settings.

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Murray Smith

Todd Berliner’s Hollywood Aesthetic advances an original perspective on Hollywood filmmaking by insisting on its fundamentally aesthetic character, and exploring its particular aesthetic features with the tools of neoformalist film analysis, cognitive psychology, and the philosophy of art. I focus on two of the book’s most ambitious claims: a) that appreciation of the style of Hollywood films can play an important role in our experience of them, over and above its role in representing and expressively dramatizing narrative elements; and b) that the ideological dimension of Hollywood filmmaking serves its aesthetic purposes, rather than vice versa. I conclude by noting a common root to the resistance likely to greet Berliner’s two bold inversions of conventional wisdom on narrative, style, aesthetics, and ideology.

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Kata Szita, Paul Taberham and Grant Tavinor

Bernard Perron and Felix Schröter, eds., Video Games and the Mind: Essays on Cognition, Affect and Emotion (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016), 224 pp., $39.95 (softcover), ISBN: 9780786499090.

Christopher Holliday, The Computer-Animated Film: Industry, Style and Genre (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), 272 pp., $39.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9781474427890.

Aubrey Anable, Playing with Feelings: Video Games and Affect (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2018), 200 pp., $25.00 (paperback), ISBN: 9781517900250. and Christopher Hanson, Game Time: Understanding Temporality in Video Games (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018), 296 pp., $38.00 (paperback), ISBN: 9780253032867.

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Chalk Back

The Girl and Youth-Led Street Art Movement to #StopStreetHarassment

Natasha Harris-Harb and Sophie Sandberg

The Chalk Back movement that started in March 2016 is a rapidly growing collective of over 150 young activists from around the world. As part of a university class project, Sophie decided to collect experiences of street harassment, write them out verbatim with chalk on the streets where they occurred alongside the hashtag #stopstreetharassment, and post them on the Instagram account @catcallsofnyc. Two years later, the account gained popularity. Other catcallsof accounts opened in London, Amsterdam, Ottawa, Dhaka, Nairobi, Cairo, and Sydney. These accounts, discussed below, are just a few of those spanning 150 cities in 49 countries in 6 continents. We are two Chalk Back members—Natasha from Ottawa and Sophie from New York City—highlighting the risk, empowerment, and power dynamics of what we call chalking back by amplifying the voices of those doing this work around the world.

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Ted Nannicelli

I would like to start off this issue’s note by thanking everyone who has been part of a really impressive team effort to keep Projections running even while ordinary life has been upended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes referees and authors, who have had to juggle deadlines with a variety of other commitments, associate editors Tim Smith and Aaron Taylor (as well as acting associate editor Katalin Bálint—more on which soon!), and Janine Latham and the production team at Berghahn. Thank you all for going out of your way to continue working on the journal in spite of everything else that has been going on, including some significant personal challenges for some of you.

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Claudia Mitchell

In March 2019, I had the pleasure of giving a talk at Peter Green College at the University of British Columbia that I called “The Politics and Possibilities of Girl-led and Youth-led Arts-based Activism to Address Gender Violence.” I wanted to highlight in particular the activist work of numerous groups of Indigenous girls and young women in a current project and the youth AIDS activist work of the Fire and Hope project in South Africa but I also wanted to place this work in the context of girls’ activism and youth activism more broadly. To do this I started out with a short activity called “Know your Girl Activist” during which I showed PowerPoint photos of some key girl and young women activists of the last few years, and asked the audience if they could identify them. The activists included two Nobel Prize Peace Prize winners, Malala Yousafzai (2014) and Nadia Murad (2018) along with Autumn Pelletier, the young Indigenous woman from Northern Ontario, Canada, well known for her work on water activism, and, of course, Greta Thunberg, now a household name but then, in 2019, already well known for her work on climate change activism. To my surprise only some of these activists were recognized, so, during the Q and A session, when I was asked if there is a history of girls as activists I could see that this question indicated clearly the urgent need for this special issue of Girlhood Studies which was only just in process then. Now, thanks to the dedication of the two guest editors of this special issue, Catherine Vanner and Anuradha Dugal and the wide range of superb contributors, I can point confidently to girls’ activism as a burgeoning area of study in contemporary feminism rooted in feminist history.

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James E. Cutting

Much of aesthetics is based in psychological responses. Yet seldom have such responses—couched in empirically based psychological terms—played a central role in the discussion of movie aesthetics. Happily, Todd Berliner’s Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema does just that. This commentary discusses some history and some twists and turns behind Berliner’s analysis.

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Hopeful, Harmless, and Heroic

Figuring the Girl Activist as Global Savior

Jessica K. Taft

There has been a notable increase in the public visibility of girl activists in the past ten years. In this article, I analyze media narratives about several individual girl activists to highlight key components of the newly desirable figure of the girl activist. After tracing the expansion of girl power discourses from an emphasis on individual empowerment to the invocation of girls as global saviors, I argue that girls are particularly desirable figures for public consumption because the encoding of girls as symbols of hope helps to resolve public anxieties about the future, while their more radical political views are managed through girlhood’s association with harmlessness. Ultimately, the figure of the hopeful and harmless girl activist hero is simultaneously inspirational and demobilizing.

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How Motion Shapes Thought in Cinema

The Embodied Film Style of Éric Rohmer

Maarten Coëgnarts

This article provides an embodied study of the film style of the French filmmaker Éric Rohmer. Drawing on insights from cognitive linguistics, I first show how dynamic patterns of containment shape human thinking about relationships, a concept central to Rohmer’s cinema. Second, I consider the question of how film might elicit this spatial thinking through the use of such cinematic devices as mobile framing and fixed-frame movement. Third, using Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs series as a case study, I demonstrate how the filmmaker applies these devices—and with them the spatial thinking they initiate—systemically to shape the relationships of his films visually. Lastly, I use the results of this analysis to provide discussion and suggestions for future research.