Coline Serreau is one of the most famous female French directors alive, not only in France but also abroad. This book is devoted not only to some relevant biographical aspects of Serreau's personal and artistic life, but also to the social, historical and political context of her debut. It deals with the 1970s' flavour of Serreau's work and more especially with the importance of politics. Taking intertextuality in its broadest sense, it assesses the strong literary influence on the tone, genre and content of Serreau's films and dramas. The book is concerned with the cinematographic genres Serreau uses. It provides a description and an analysis of Serreau's comedies, within the wider perspective of French comedies. The book also deals with the element of 'family' or community which is recurrent in Serreau's films and plays. During the 1980s, Serreau's career moved towards fiction, and she worked both for the cinema and the theatre. Serreau often underlines her family's lack of financial resources. The book considers the specificity of French cinema in the 1970s before analysing in more detail Serreau's first film. Serreau's work on stage and on big or small screens was strongly influenced by the political mood which succeeded May '68 in France. The book also discusses the idea of utopia which was the original theme of Serreau' first documentary and which is central to her first fiction film, Pourquoi pas!. Female humour and laughter cannot be considered without another powerful element: the motivation of often transgressive laughter.
Offering personal testimony of three encounters with Lee Krasner’s work, Pollock focuses on her collage work using sliced-up drawings in the mid-1970s, a retrospective exhibition in 2000 curated by Robert Hobbs, and a visit to Canberra. Returning to her critical dialogue from the Introduction with David Anfam, who cruelly reviewed Hobbs’s Krasner exhibition, dismissing his proposition that her 1970s work was a postmodern deconstruction of the self, she proposes a reading of Krasner’s recurring affirmation that her art was ‘biographical’ by introducing Harold Rosenberg’s thesis on action in painting as a political gesture of post-war, post-Hiroshima, post-Holocaust despair and defiance. This enables a deeper, social-historical-biographical entanglement to be plotted into the specificities of New York abstract painting. Alert to class, Rosenberg was indifferent to race, gender and sexuality. Pollock returns to Sun Woman I, reading it for an echo of Marilyn Monroe as a riant pathos formula, the Nympha figure of enlivening. She thus escapes the deadly triangulation that she posed at the start. Was Monroe-ness – the lively embodiment and visual performance of the feminine – indirectly discoverable in abstract painting, inscribed by the one painter who might answer back to Julia Kristeva’s scepticism about the possibility of women’s creation (and female laughter), Lee Krasner, painting her way through grief (for her painter-partner and for her mother) and beyond what Prophecy had allowed to surface? Monroe and Krasner can thus be aligned as both creative, enacting/acting women traversing the modernist splitting of the masculine avant-garde from feminized popular culture.
. Stetz suggests that female laughter is so powerful because, historically, women have been discouraged from public displays of laughter. Even in the late twentieth century, she argues, female writers must face female stereotypes of modesty 133 chap6.indd 133 05/03/2010 09:44:55 British Asian fiction which prevent them from freely engaging with humour.44 Being a comic female writer means questioning the submissive role created for women by patriarchy, a role Syal herself acknowledges in Anita where the local women have been taught to avoid the expression of emotion
Fain would I kiss my Julia’s dainty leg, which is white and hair-less as an egge. (Robert Herrick, 1648, ‘Her legs’) Flying to Chicago a few years ago, I realised, from the sound of predominantly female laughter, that the in-flight movie What Women Want 2 was being particularly well received by the women passengers
, loathing, and learning Along with the more horrifying deceits encouraged in the widow’s speech there is also a pervasive sense of humour. Perfetti considers the subversive nature of the widow’s speech in the wider context of female laughter. 27 In the Tretis she suggests that the women’s laughter is contrived as a counter-narrative to popular good-wife treatises. Where Perfetti emphasises the comic effect achieved by a playing-off of ‘medieval husbands’ fears of their sexual inadequacy, and the damage it could
jesting the narrator effectively creates a scene anathema to the image of the courtly or upper-class lady. Lisa Perfetti describes medieval perceptions of female laughter: medieval physicians believed that women were more prone to laughter as a result of their ‘excessive, shifting fluids and wandering uterus [which made them] less able to control any inappropriate impulse to laugh’. 27 Based on this perception, medieval decorum manuals for women discouraged unrestrained laughter, arguing that it lessened beauty by creating
woman’ comedy, defined by Kathleen Rowe in her analysis of ‘the power of female grotesques and female laughter to challenge the social and symbolic systems that would keep women in their place’ (1995: 3). Outlining the significance of this genre, Rowe argues that ‘it is the genres of laughter that... are built on transgression and inversion, disguise and masquerade, sexual reversals, the deflation of