Contesting the Gaze: Gender and Genre in Hispanic Women's Filmmaking

(Roundtable)


Spanish/Portuguese / Women's and Gender Studies

Ruth Z. Yuste-Alonso (University of Connecticut-Storrs)

Ana Maria Diaz-Marcos (University of Connecticut)

In Ways of Seeing (1972), John Berger notes that the idea of gaze has been traditionally defined as masculine, for there is an underlying assumption that "men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at" (47). Berger's observation unravels a hegemonic scopic regime, which oftentimes privileges men's perspective and situates them at the center of narratives, thus leaving women's experience on the margins of the collective imaginary. Alongside other crucial categories (such as class, race, or age), gender structures pervade not only the way we see and understand the world, but also the way we talk about it. Therefore, the notion of gaze becomes a key concept in cultural production, for whoever casts the gaze controls the narrative and, ultimately, history.

Amidst today's popular feminist resurgence, propelled by the #MeToo movement and echoed by other initiatives worldwide that have revived on-going debates on representation and identity in popular culture, we consider it is necessary to revisit and examine the notion of gaze in the works of Hispanic women filmmakers. This roundtable plans to discuss some of the following questions: what happens when women are the ones who look? Is there a female gaze versus a male gaze? Is it appropriate to talk about a female gaze given the importance of other intersecting categories? How do film genres inform the gaze? Is it possible to subvert dominant ways of seeing through the use of film genres, and if so, is this particular use gendered?

This roundtable seeks submissions that explore, complicate, or challenge the traditional notion of gaze in works by women filmmakers from Latin America, Spain, and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Of particular interest are papers focusing on directors who conceive of their work as a space to contest hegemonic practices of looking, and who propose new perspectives, narratives, and filmic experience through the creative use of film genre conventions. Abstracts in Spanish or English are welcome.

This roundtable explores, complicates, and challenges the traditional notion of the gaze in works by women filmmakers from Latin America, Spain, and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Papers focusing on directors use their work as a space to contest hegemonic practices of looking, and who propose new perspectives, narratives, and filmic experience through the creative use of film genre conventions are encouraged.