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[Commlist] New Book: Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women: Gender, Space and Mobility in Contemporary Cinema

Tue Nov 17 20:41:06 GMT 2020

New Book: *Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women: Gender, Space and Mobility in Contemporary Cinema* (Palgrave Macmillan)
Author: Maud Ceuterick

Open Access book, available here: <>

Fifty years of feminist thought have made the idea that women stay at home while men dominate the streets seem outdated; nevertheless, Ceuterick argues that theoretical considerations of gender, space, and power in film theory remain limited by binary models. Looking instead to more fluid models of spatial relations inspired by Sara Ahmed, Rosi Braidotti, and Doreen Massey, this book discovers wilful, affirmative, and imaginative activations of gender on screen. Through close, micro-analysis of historic European Messidor (Alain Tanner, 1979) and contemporary world cinema:  Vendredi Soir (Claire Denis, 2002), Wadjda (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2012), and Head-On (Fatih Akin, 2004), this book identifies affirmative aesthetics: light, texture, rhythm, movement and sound, all of which that participate in a rewriting of bodies and spaces. Ultimately, Ceuterick argues, affirmative aesthetics can challenge the gender categories and power structures that have been thought to determine our habitation of cars, homes, and city streets. Wilful women drive this book forward, through their movement and stillness, imagination and desire, performance and abjection.

Table of content

Chap 1. Introduction: Gender, Space, and Affects in Film
Chap 2. Women’s Road Movies and Affirmative Wandering: Messidor
Chap 3. Cars: A Micro-analysis of Space and Bodies in Vendredi soir
Chap 4. Houses and Wilful Women: Wadjda
Chap 5. Streets: Freedom, Diaspora, and the Erotic in Head-On
Chap 6. Conclusion: Forms of Affirmative Aesthetics

Author’s bio: Maud Ceuterick is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellow in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen, Norway. She has previously published on the ‘road movie’ genre, gender and domesticity in transnational cinema, and space tourism in film.

Early reviews of the book:

“/Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women/ offers a genuinely original and sophisticated analysis of gendered space and cinematic (wilful) bodies. Ceuterick argues elegantly and persuasively that film can open up sites of contestation within which fixed, binary categories can be parsed and subverted as a form of ‘affirmative aesthetics’. This is a beautifully written monograph that combines radical intent with lucid thought; it will be a vital resource for feminist, gender and cinema scholars alike. Both timely and necessary, I, for one, welcome it wholeheartedly.”
— Anna Backman Rogers, University of Gothenburg

"This splendid and thoughtful book connects Rosi Braidotti's affirmative ethics and Sara Ahmed's concept of the willful subject to film in a way that many have been waiting for. Complementing feminist phenomenological approaches to film as well as Deleuze-inspired (feminist) theory and Eugenie Brinkema's work on affect, the extended and subtle discussion of both acclaimed (Claire Denis's /Vendredi soir/) and lesser-known (Alain Tanner's /Messidor/) films in /Affirmative Aesthetics and Wilful Women/ forges a newly affirmative mode of critique that will interest all scholars of film, gender and space.”

-- Kate Ince, University of Birmingham
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