Friday, December 31, 2010

So it is New Years!

Another year passed! And my resolution is definitely to be going to the gym! Not only did I eat way too many holiday sweets but also I have a year and a half to make sure I am slim and trim for my bridesmaid dress for my friend's wedding! Nothing more embarrassing then being up in front of all those people with my current belly! Luckily the girl I am moving in with in February loves to go to the gym so maybe we can work out together!

Tonight I plan to be tame as far as drinking concerns and beat my friend at Risk. (Last time we played our game lasted almost 24 hours!)

We had our Christmas yesterday and it was awesome. now I just have to figure out how to pack up everything I need to take back! Grr the days are getting away from me and so much work for when I get home. I can hardly wait though because I am sick of the local guys hitting on me. I have absolutely no interest in dating at the moment.

I just finished reading a wonderful book called The Birth House by a Canadian Author, Ami Mckay, about midwifery and the life of women in early Canada. I recommend it!

I also read Ravena & the Resurrected, a pop vampire novel by my friend Tami Jackson. It was terribly witty and the historical information about Seattle was intriguing. I intend to write a review on Amazon once I get home to Brandon.

And I read Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen, a book about an autistic child and her family. It is truly heartwarming!

Happy New Years everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Activity Update

I have not been very active lately. For professional reasons I cannot talk about a lot of what I have been doing, but also I am waiting until the end of term so that I can post some of my lesson plans currently being graded so that other teachers may borrow them if they wish.

I have a week left of classes and then I will hop on a bus back to my hometown in British Columbia for 3 weeks of holiday fun! I can hardly wait! I am also likely going to be moving in the beginning of February. More to come about that once I know for sure! You can also check out my journal The Compass That Doesn't Point North where I have been updating with poetry more recently. I hope to have more time to work on the children's stories I started in the summer as well but I can't guarantee that any time soon. I am currently writing up a 45 minute workshop for WestCAST, a conference for student teachers in Western Canada. This likely will eat up more of my holiday time than I would like. I also am trying to sort out the paperwork for going to Thailand in the spring to student teach. And I have been named honourary aunt for my friend's first child who is due in March! (As well as Maid of Honour for my friend's wedding the following year!) So there is plenty going on. Right now my main concerns are finishing up the last few projects of the term and starting on some Christmas baking.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Look At This Week

This week has been a busy one in a lot of ways. With my first student teaching placement almost at a close I can't help but reflect how wild it has been the last 5 weeks. I would say I had about one normal week with the kids, the others were either shortened for some reason or crazy due to some holiday. (ie. Halloween.)That said I am going to miss teaching, and I am dreading being the student again next week.

I have been busy in many other ways too. Mostly cooking and baking! Yesterday I made up some Donelli's stuffed spinach pasta. For a sauce I chopped up red and yellow tomatoes, red peppers, and onions and mixed them together with some Heart Shape flavoured flax oils and random spices from our shelves! The result was a very tasty meal!

Here are some of the flavoured flax oils we have. As you can see there are savoury flavours and dessert flavours too! My roommates and I agree the savoury flavours are the best!

Last week I baked cinnamon buns for the first time. They turned out really well. (No picture available because they were eaten too fast!) Then this week I made up some gluten-free shortbread for my class. I used a combination of rice flour and gluten-free all-purpose flour.

I am loving my Saturday instructing job, although I wish I had a little more free time. I guess I will once I get back to class next week because my days will not be nearly as long. Anyways the kids are great and it is wonderful experience to add to my resume.

I am planning for my winter vacation. I can hardly wait! It is almost 3 weeks long this year!

More soon, but for now sleep!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Science Lesson

Today I taught my first lesson. It went reasonably well. Classroom management issues were not any higher than I expected for an exciting activity. (We went outside to observe the wind.) The children will tell you what they think though. Apparently they don't like my writing. I wrote very legibly but the class is very set in routines and that was likely the issue. The was a glitch using the overhead projector so we defaulted to using the whiteboard. I am relatively pleased with how things went and acknowledge today was likely bad timing for this lesson because a number of the children have come down with a cold or flu and were not feeling well at all. I am hoping we will have time for the tornado tube experiment on Monday. Tomorrow is already packed solid with activities and then Friday is a Pro-D Day.

I made bread pudding after school and now I am exhausted and ready for a nap. So much to do though! Halloween planning.... Social Studies planning... maybe I will just go to bed early.

As for yesterday's picture, it is of Halloween coloured pumpkin seeds. We will be using these in Math as manipulatives for Addition using Ten Frames and also for patterning!


So I have been working on a number of projects recently. Last Thursday I made homemade bread. It turned out pretty well for my first attempt.

I also started student teaching. I am working on lesson plans for Grade 2 math, science, and social studies. In science we are studying Air and Water in the Environment. Since we are reading The Wizard of Oz in English I thought a tornado-tube experiment would be only fitting!

Today I went to Bulk Barn to get orange and black dye. Judging by my conversation with the cashier she was guessing I was making a cake with orange and black icing. Here's what I actually made:

I'll let you try to guess what they are and what they are for! Answers to come in my next entry!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holiday Yoghurt Treat

Thanks to my cousin I have a lovely jar of homemade plain yoghurt! Normally I mix plain yoghurt with no-sugar-added jam but I was out. Instead I tried something new and it was amazing! I added 1/2 a teaspoon of honey, some powdered cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and a handful of pecans to a bowl of yoghurt. Then I added granola. The result was absolutely delicious! Next time I will leave out the honey because it was sweet enough with just the cinnamon and cloves! What a treat!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Personality Tests

In my Classroom Management class we asked to complete a Myers-Briggs personality test. As I had already completed one I just dug my results out of my cardboard box of papers I need to keep. Our assignment was to write a paper on how our personality type might affect our classroom management style. While my personality test results sound a lot like me I do not really see them as the sole factor contributing to how I deal with any situation. Nothing is ever that black and white. I view the results of personality tests quite similarly to how I view results from IQ tests, they are good for some things but are generally over used. I hear some companies will hire employees based on their personality type. This seems like discrimination to me. Then again my personality type is apparently "The Idealist." I guess I'll sit here surrounded by my positive affirmation quotes, listening to tranquil music, and imagining a perfect world.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cold Remedy Tea

I invented this recipe as a teen and it seems to work well as relief for cold symptoms. (And it even tastes pretty good).

1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried or fresh mint
a sprinkle of ground cayenne (optional)

Put all ingredients in the bottom of a mug. Add boiling water and stir.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Apple Raisin Crisp


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp half and half cream

8-10 apples
1/2 cup raisins
3 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup granola
1/4 cup pecans


cut and core apples. mix in a 9" by 13" glass casserole dish. cover with 2 tbsp of cinnamon then oats, then the remaining cinnamon.

in a saucepan combine butter, water, egg and brown sugar over low heat. stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to thicken. add vanilla and cream. stir and let thicken a bit more. pour half the mixture over the layer of oats. cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake 35-40 minutes or until apples begin to bubble.

remove foil and add granola and pecans. pour the remaining half of the sugar mixture over the crisp. cook and addition 5-10 minutes without foil.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Picture Update

Ok so here are some pictures of the last week.

First I went hat shopping and here are some of the highlights:

And resulting silliness:

Pirate Me:

Fun with the sticker off my bandana:

Here's me out at the farm where me and my boyfriend were learning about vikings. Dad said I looked like an alien when he saw this picture. There may be some truth to that!

And look how long my hair is already!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beautifully Bald

As you know, earlier today I got my hair shaved off at the hair salon and then I sent it away in an envelope to the Canadian Cancer Society. I wasn't satisfied with my brush cut though... sometimes the curiosity just gets the better of me for better or for worse!

So I decided to shave my head completely. About halfway through. I reached the "uh oh" stage!

I label it as such because this was about the time I realized I probably should have bought a home hair shaving kit from Walmart and used the electric shaver to cut my hair a bit shorter before I went at it with a razor. Of course it was too late because I looked like a complete idiot and did not really want to have my photo getting taken and posted on the People of Walmart webpage!

About an hour and three razor blades later I looked like this:

And yup I nicked myself a couple times with the razor but that is part of the fun right? (I am still uncertain how I nicked my ear... as it was not my ears I was shaving, but that is off topic).

Thanks again for all the support and I leave you with this music video of Christina Aguilera entitled "Beautiful". Because you are all beautiful and don't you forget it!

Rocking the Brush Cut!

(Edit: November 9th, 2012 - I notice my pictures are not working. I will fix this when I get home from Thailand in May 2013. Sorry for the inconvenience, but the back up copies of the photos are on my external harddrive in Canada!)

Okay, due to my nocturnal schedule at the moment I am in dire need of a nap but I needed to share this first! As you well know I decided to shave my head and donate my hair to the Canadian Cancer Society so it could be made into a wig for a cancer patient going through chemo therapy.

What you may not be aware of is that this journey started 3 years ago. Back then my hair was pretty short. I'm talking about to me ears. I had it cut short like this shortly after my graduation and continued to keep it this way through first and second year college.

But that didn't satisfy me. What I really wanted as a 19-year old was to shock my mother by shaving my head bald. However, I wasn't going to do it without a bit of hype. At the time my best friend and I were talking about a road trip across Canada and I decided I was going to shave my head when we reached Nova Scotia.

As many plans do, our road trip hasn't happened yet. (Hopefully it will one summer in the future.) I was still bound and determined to shave my head though! As it turned out my mother is much too supportive and was not at all shocked to discover my plans. The shock value gone, I decided if I was going to do this I'd do it right. So two years ago I decided I would grow out my hair and then donate it to the Canadian Cancer Society.

There are many reasons why I shaved my head. Some of you might be troubled to learn my initial reason was as selfish as a teenage whim to get a reaction out of my mother. That of course wasn't the only reason or I wouldn't be where I am today! Another reason I shaved my head was to do with the movie V for Vendetta. For those of you who have seen the movie you will know that V shaves Evey Hammond's head as part of his process to give her no fear.

As a young woman this idea was very striking to me. Perhaps it was not possible to be without fear, but certainly the shaving of ones head could easily be used as a symbol for courage. At this point in my life I was going through some very trying personal issues. The idea of the personal meaning that shaving my head would have for me was something that helped me grow out my hair over the last two years. There was something powerful about growing out all that hair just to have it gone in less than an hour.

And of course I was inspired by G.I. Jane as well...

I mean what girl wouldn't be?

People have been asking me was I inspired to shave my hair for Cancer Research by a special person in my life? A close family member or friend? There is no simple answer to that. My grandfather died of cancer when my mother was 15. I never met him, but I know my mother loved him very much and his death shaped her choices over the next few years of her life. In some strange way this headshave is still about mom, because even if I am a troublemaker at times I really do love her.

But I can't say this is just about my grandfather, or even just about the many other friends or relatives in my life who have had benign cancer that they were able to remove. Maybe it is about my old manager at the Tim Horton's I worked at in BC who recently passed away when her cancer came back. Maybe it is about my mom's boss when I was a kid who also passed away, I remember being touched by what a beautiful person she was right up until the end. Maybe this is about all the people who aren't remembered when they suffer through the horrors of cancer.

I think that this is about the statistics. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, "an estimated 1 out of every 4 Canadians are expected to die from cancer." Their website also says, "Based on 2009 incidence rates, 40% of Canadian women and 45% of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes." I want to raise awareness and encourage donations because I want to see the Canadian Cancer Society find a cure. And think you all do too. Because if a quarter of the people you know are expected to die from cancer, that is definitely worth fighting for!

This morning I had about a 12 inches of beautiful brown hair on my head.

Now I have a brush cut!

I want to thank the wonderful women at Euphoria hair salon in Brandon, Mb for not only doing such a wonderful job of shaving my head so that the Canadian Cancer Society could get the longest amount of hair possible but also for providing their professional expertise free of charge today!

Their donation was truly touching, as were the donations I have received on my profile page for the Canadian Cancer Society. And all the support I have had from friends and family, including my aunt who agreed to come with me today and take all these wonderful photos!

I still plan to shave myself fully bald today. Partially out of curiosity and partially because I want so much to raise awareness for this cause and of course my friends are all imploring for this course of action! I wouldn't want to disappoint anyone! I plan to shave my head fully after my nap. Hopefully by then someone will be around to be my eyes when I am trying to shave the back! I will post more photos then.

Just one more thing I want to say before I sleep. I have had so many people today tell me how beautiful I am. Thank you. And don't forget that each one of you is beautiful too. It doesn't matter who you are, or what you have done. We are all beautiful. Sometimes we don't feel like it when we look in the mirror, but each one of us has a beautiful soul. It can be said our actions define us. You may not feel beautiful today but if you let your love shine through, if you do something beautiful today, then you will remember how beautiful you really are. Let your love shine! :-)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning and Books

My mind is a bit foggy. Switching to nights means my schedule is a bit messed up right now and I feel rather tired. That said I had a good weekend. I didn’t end up going to the 4th of July fireworks because I got landed with and overtime shift and spent most of Sunday asleep. I spent the rest of Sunday with my boyfriend and his best friend. Made for good conversation. Lots of ideas flying back and forth between the three of us. Then this afternoon I was at my aunt and uncle’s farm. I cut the grass and my aunt and uncle had a friend over. We were talking about schools, which is one of my favorite subjects as I want to eventually open my own school. It is very interesting to me to hear what people like/dislike about the school system.

While I was mowing the lawn I was thinking how I wanted to do some writing and that it would be interesting to write some children’s books and illustrate them. Eventually I would love to write a novel but right now children’s books would be a lot of fun and I can just imagine the excitement if I handed my cousin’s kid a book I’d written that was dedicated to her.

Must be getting ready for work now... another night shift tonight.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1st, 2010

Happy Canada Day! Due to my very important job at Canada's own Tim Horton's where I will be serving fellow Canadians coffee and lovely treats like this Canada Day Donut, I will be missing out on tonight's fireworks show. Luckily for me I get the weekend off so my boyfriend and I will be nipping across the border for some 4th of July festivities instead!

My roommates are all out rafting down the Little Saskatchewan river on air mattresses and likely getting very sunburned. I opted to stay home and do dishes so I wouldn't end up late for work this afternoon. I made myself pasta for brunch but have tons of leftovers because I was not nearly as hungry as I'd anticipated.

I wanted to get out in the garden and do some weeding but there is a guy installing a fence right in the area I wanted to work in so it will have to wait. Instead I will work on my Canadian History course.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

About my morning...

Photos speak for themselves.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

View out my window

This is the church across the street. I was watching the crow perched on the top from my window before it began to rain. :-)

I love the beautiful old buildings around here. They are very inspiring.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Join Me in Fighting Cancer!

I will be shaving my head in early July and donating the hair to the Canadian Cancer
Society. If you would like to support me and make a pledge you can follow the link below! Thank you everyone!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The perfect school

In the movie Matilda the Trunchbull says, "My idea of the perfect school is one in which there are no children at all."

We all have ideas about what schools should be like. Hopefully most people do not share the same ideas as the Trunchbull. Based on my own experience growing up it seems to me that public schools are only really good for the "average" student. Any student who is above or below average is going to start to slip through the cracks of the system unless they are lucky enough to get a teacher who takes their jobs so seriously that they go above and beyond the curriculum to make sure every one of their students succeeds.

My own experience as an above average student, was an unpleasant one. I was used as a crutch for the below average students a lot of the time and not given the things I needed to succeed. I surfed through highschool with a ton of half-hearted A's and B's and graduated grade 12 with absolutely no direction and no study skills. University was more interesting but I was more interested in learning stuff not taught in highschool than in picking a direction of study in the first couple years. When I finally picked a direction I had to cram all the necessary components into one year so I could get into the program of my choice the next year. It was a painful experience, but a worthwhile one. I realized what I wanted to do was make sure no one else got put in my situation. I am currently entering into teacher certification in the fall with the eventual goal of opening my own school in which I will target the individual student rather than the "average" student. The idea is that no student will fall into the cracks of a broken system.

I am very interested in Waldorf and Montessori schools as well as other private and public schools with similar philosophies. I hope to incorporate some of their principles into my eventual school.

What ideas do you have about schools? What do you like about them? What do you think needs to be improved? What do you think of home-schooling? I am interested in your ideas!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gazing at Literature: An Exploration of Laura Mulvey’s Feminist Film Theory Through Her “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”

By Michelle L. Corbett

Please note: This was my term paper for my third year Contemporary Critical Theory (of Literature) class. I have not polished it since I received it back from my professor as it received an A grade.

Laura Mulvey is a feminist theorist who applied psychoanalysis to film theory. Mulvey’s work was more successful and unique because of her feminist perspective and it laid the foundation for feminist film theory. Her most well known theory was to do with male gaze in film. This can also be applied to other literary works. This paper will focus on Laura Mulvey’s theory in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” and its strengths and weaknesses, and then use the poem “Lamia” by John Keats to show how this theory is useful for literature.

It is necessary to give a brief introduction to feminist theory before discussing the role Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” plays within this school of theory. Feminism arose out of the necessity for females to be given voice in society. Up until the recent past women in many cultures have been excluded from positions of political, social and economic power. Women were dismissed as less important than men and these views were fuelled by notions such as the mythology of witches through which women and men were stuck onto a binary in which women were associated with evil and men with good. It is easy to see how this might happen because the two sexes lend themselves to binaries simply by their duality. It is impossible to completely erase binary in literature but feminists put forth the notion that it should not be completely trusted. Feminist theorists also have the idea that literary discourse is often the result of males projecting their own insecurities onto women, making them appear less credible. Women work as literary symbols rather than as people in many cases. In other cases there is split discourse which condemns females no matter how they act. For instance in the case of the witch hunts if a women acted too purely it could be seen as a disguise for her true evil nature, whereas if she acted badly she would immediately be seen as a witch. Feminist theorists attempt to debunk male devices in literature in order to create a new discourse free from old stereotypes.

Laura Mulvey’s essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” was written at a time when feminist ideas were only beginning to be considered seriously and studied in universities. Therefore, her essay had a revolutionary effect. Chaudhuri boldly states that “[f]eminist film theory almost became the orthodoxy of film theory, such was its influence in the field” as a result of Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” (1). John-Louis Baudry and Christian Metz had previously attempted to apply psychoanalysis to film theory but with nominal success. The basic principle of Mulvey’s theory is the idea of the power of the male gaze in film. What is meant by this is that film has a patriarchal lens attached to it. Women are often portrayed as submissive objects to gratify males. Mulvey suggests that this sort of lens is incorporated into the very mechanism of how films are made. But it can be deconstructed by removing the scopophilic gaze of the audience and forcing an environment in which the audience must engage with the film instead of being the invisible spectator. According to Chaudhuri, “Mulvey’s concept of ‘male gaze’ subsequently became the main talking point of feminist film debate.” (31).

For Mulvey, females and males have very distinctive roles in film. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Mulvey describes the presence of the women as “an indispensible element of spectacle in normative narrative film, yet her visual presence tends to work against the development of the story line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation.” (715). The female is associated with spectacle, submission and exhibitionism. Females are the objects of male gaze and work as icons or bearers of meaning within the film. On the other hand, males are the agents of action in film. They work to move along the plots and have dominant roles. Males are associated with the camera’s gaze and function as the bearer of this voyeuristic gaze. What happens when a spectator views a film is that they must unconsciously sift through scopophilic notions like the norms of patriarchal society. The spectator becomes bombarded by these images, the result of which is that it provides the “pleasure of identification with the projected images, in particular with that of the male character, who makes things happen and controls them. Woman is, however, also a source of unpleasure since she represents the threat of castration.” (Braudy and Cohen 661). This identification with the male undermines the importance of women and causes a sense of scopophilic pleasure in viewing the film. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Mulvey says that, “By means of identification with [the male protagonist], through participation in his power the spectator can indirectly possess [the female spectacle] too.” (718). Mulvey calls the spectators voyeuristic because they watch but do directly participate and she calls the actors and actresses exhibitionists because they perform their roles in order to be watched by the spectators. The sense of voyeurism is heightened because the spectator can see the exhibitionist but the exhibitionist is unable to see the spectator.

Mulvey defines spectacle as the points in the film where the narrative is interrupted by an image of a woman. According to Cynthia Freeland, “[t]here is a dual analogy between the woman and the screen (the object of the look), and between the man and the viewer (the possessor of the look). A tension arises in the viewer between libido and ego needs, and this tension is resolved by a process of identification, whereby the [male] viewer identifies with the [male] protagonist.” (628). The spectator focuses their attention on the female in a way that ties the spectator with the (male) protagonist. This causes the female image to become objectified.

Mulvey’s work was influenced by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory. In particular his theories of penis envy and his ideas of “scopophilic” pleasure (viewing another as an erotic object) shaped her work. The idea of scopophilic pleasure translates into her notion of voyeurism in film. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Mulvey says, “Freud isolated scopophilia as one of the component instincts of sexuality ... At this point he associated scopophilia with taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze. His particular examples centre around the voyeuristic activities of children, their desire to see and make sure of the private and forbidden.” (713). It can easily be seen from this quote how the application of Freudian psychoanalysis leads to the concept of the voyeuristic male gaze in her film theory. The idea of penis envy affects her theory so far as that the male gaze in film encourages people to see male as the position of power and therefore the better position in society. In this way the female spectator will still want to identify themselves with the male position and see the female position as weaker. This lends itself to creating submissive female roles. Even in the case of female heroines in films they often become objects of the male gaze and require male assistance to come in and move the plot along.

She was also influenced by Lacan’s ideas about the mirror stage. Lacan’s mirror stage is defined as the point in the life of an infant where the infant becomes aware that their image in the mirror is a reflection of themselves. With this realization comes the formation of Ego. The Ego is created out of the discord between the perceived self and the internal understanding of self. The infant begins to objectify themselves upon the discovery of their image. This dissention between the perception of self and the image creates a fragmentation of self. Mulvey’s idea of how the male gaze operates in film is very closely linked with Lacan’s mirror stage theory. The spectator is in the place of the infant and the spectacle is in the place of the image. The spectator identifies themselves with what is happening in the film although they are actually separate from it. This vicarious behaviour displays itself in the form of voyeurism. The connection between the spectator and the spectacle is fragmented and yet within the moment of watching the film the two are connected in a sense as well. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Mulvey states, “[C]inema has structures of fascination strong enough to allow temporary loss of ego while simultaneously reinforcing the ego.” (714). The male gaze becomes an action through voyeurism, tying the spectator to the male view within the film and keeping the spectator from fully identifying themselves with images of the objectified feminine.
Lacan referred to the image in the mirror as the symbolic realm. This image causes the separation of the infant from the unconscious. Entering into the symbolic realm the infant is no longer able to connect their selves with the real. The real is the self that exists purely in and of itself before the infant is able to perceive of their self. The symbolic realm is the world of the masculine in which people conduct their business, fully conscious of their perceived image. A person may try to go back towards the real but all they are capable of reaching is the realm of the imaginary, which is connected with the perceptions of Freud’s pre-Oedipal stage. The imaginary is more real than the symbolic but at the same time is incapable of fully reaching the real. Mulvey applies this in her film theory, saying that the film moves towards the imaginary but is full of images based in the symbolic patriarchal realm, implying the power of the male gaze over everything happening within a film.

One of the strengths of Mulvey’s theory is that it gives a woman’s perspective on theory. There were not a lot of female theorists before Mulvey and the few that there were often were not taken seriously. One of the more well known female theorists previous to Mulvey was Cixious, whose theory seems more of a satire than an actual theory. Mulvey appeared at just the right time for her work to get noticed. Feminist theories were beginning to be taught at universities. Writing on film theory, which was a relatively new area of theory, allowed her to carve out a spot for herself among male scholars. Her feminist slant on film theory was revolutionary and paved the way for many more feminist theorists. Her psychoanalytic perspective helped to tie her theories to theories of literature that were well known and therefore made her voice more reputable.

Another strength is that Mulvey’s theory lent itself well to the silent film era where action was limited due to the superimposing of the actor onto backdrop. The result was that even performances in a setting that should require little movement, such as the confined space of a car were “self conscious, vulnerable and transparent.” (“A Clumsy Sublime” 3). This allowed for many strategic shots that focused on the female body as an object of desire, while limiting the shots containing action that would further the narrative. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” the woman in patriarchal society becomes a “signifier for the male other, bound by the symbolic order in which man can live out his phantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning.” (712). This image of the woman as an image onto which male discourse can be projected creates a very strong sense of the male gaze although the limited capability for realism in film during this era made the fragmentation between reality and the world of the cinema more pronounced, not allowing the spectator to be fully engaged in the act of voyeurism. It is for this reason that Mulvey’s theory did not lose its ability to apply to the modern film industry and in fact is possibly more effective in describing it than it was the silent film era in that the film itself has a greater sense of realism and less fragmentation. Mulvey states in “A Clumsy Sublime” that “the artificiality of the studio scene heightens the sense of temporal dislocation” in the case of rear projection cinema. (3).

A third strength is that Mulvey’s theory can easily be applied to other works of literature. While the male gaze in other literature is less pronounced because the voyeurism is not as extreme as it is in the case of film, it is present and able to affect the way the reader frames the characters in narratives in relation to themselves. In the case of poetry, which is often devoid of narrative it is possible to see the female depicted as spectacle, especially in the case of erotic poetry and love poems. The main difference between film and other literature in regards to Mulvey’s theory is the gap between the spectator and the spectacle. It is very easy in the case of film to see things through the lens of the male gaze when the mechanism of the camera itself, and the shots produced lends itself to being interpreted through male gaze within patriarchal society. With the spectacle of film splayed out in front of the spectator’s eyes it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing it through a male lens. This is because the speed at which the information reaches the spectator’s senses requires much less time than in most other forms of literature. In the case of a novel the reader is likely to pause and think about a passage before continuing. This allows for more time to disrupt and contradict the male gaze. Despite this much of the highly reputed literature has been written by men and within the bounds of patriarchal society and is therefore subject to the male gaze.

One weakness of Mulvey’s theory is that it is based in psychoanalysis, which is flawed. One problem with psychoanalysis, particularly in the case of Sigmund Freud is the way it is applied. Freud would use lead in questions in his sessions with clients, cause them to respond in a certain way that would tie in with his theories. In this way it would be impossible to disprove the effectiveness of psychoanalysis. This lack of objectivity also leads to a lot of criticism and for good reason. Another problem with Freud’s psychoanalytics is how phallocentric his theories are. This is also very evident in Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema”. She seems to take Freud’s ideas too seriously, and this is particularly obvious when she fails to give female spectators credit that they may enjoy a film without actually seriously agreeing with the patriarchal position of the male gaze. In fact it is strange that Mulvey would take Freud’s work seriously in any fashion as a feminist theorist because it causes females to be viewed in bad light. Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” remarks on “the ‘beauty’ of psychoanalysis in the way it renders the frustration women experience under ‘the phallocentric order’” according to Chaudhuri. (33). This analysis is a poor one, because Freud’s psychoanalysis attempts to undermine women rather than identify with their feelings. The idea that women are supposed to have penis envy is not something that should be taken seriously, and yet Mulvey seems to incorporate this into her own theories. It is likely that this background in Freud’s well-known psychoanalysis gave her an edge in the field when “Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema” first was written, but it undercuts her whole vision of empowerment for women through the medium of film.

A second weakness of Mulvey’s theory is that she assumes that people must always identify with the males in films. Laura Mulvey herself addresses this in her book Visual and Other Pleasures. She states “I have been asked why I only used the male third personal singular to stand for the spectator. At the time, I was interested in the relationship between the image of woman on the screen and the ‘masculinisation’ of the spectator position, regardless of [their] actual sex.” (29). Laura Mulvey decided to pursue the question “What about the women in the audience?” in further detail. (29). She believes that there are a few possibilities as to how female audience members can react to the male gaze created my film. One possibility is that as a result of the masculinisation of the spectator position a woman “may find herself so out of key with the pleasure on offer ... that the spell of fascination is broken.” (29). Another possibility is that she would not and instead “find herself secretly, unconsciously almost, enjoying the freedom of action and control over the diegetic world that identification with the hero provides.” (29). Mulvey is more interested in the latter.

Another issue Mulvey addresses in Visual and Other Pleasures is how having a female lead in a film effects how spectators identify with males in the film. She focuses on “films in which a woman central protagonist is shown to be unable to achieve a stable sexual identity, torn between the deep blue sea of passive femininity and the devil of regressive masculinity.” (30). Mulvey describes the female heroine’s identity crisis in this sort of film as “echoed by the woman spectator’s point of view.” (30). She thinks that the female spectator who has identified with a male hero in another film and then identifies with a female heroine is problematic because she views the masculine point of view as equal to a more female gaze. It seems that Mulvey neglects the fact that the female spectator is perfectly capable of enjoying the film for its plotline and identifying with a male hero’s human emotion rather than just focusing on a film with a masculine gaze. Female spectators (or any spectators for that matter) are able critically evaluate what is going on in a film or piece of literature and take only what is meaningful from it. Mulvey attempts to band-aid this part of her theory by using the pre-Oedipal stage in Freud’s theory to describe the role of the female spectator. According to Chaudhuri she suggests that “during many women’s lives, there are frequent regressions to this phallic phase, leading their behaviour to alternate between ‘passive’ femininity and regressive ‘masculinity’.” (40). Through this digression the female spectator is able to take on the masculine role of spectator and derive pleasure from the film.

This leads right into a third weakness of Mulvey’s theory which is that she assumes that people are child-like and do not comprehend the implications of what is depicted in film. As human beings we are able to see that film is not the same as reality any more than theatre is. We are perfectly capable of making critiques of film and often do. It is easy to move beyond the film and see the falsities of the male gaze. Mulvey’s suggestion of female spectators regressing into a pre-Oedipal state undermines their ability to look at films in a critical fashion.

While Mulvey’s theory is tailored to film and works better with it than other forms of literature it is possible to find the influence of patriarchy in many works of literature and to see how the male gaze exists in these works. In the poem “Lamia” by John Keats the character Apollonius has a particularly powerful gaze. The nymph Lamia had Hermes transform her into a beautiful woman so that she could capture the affections of Lycius. At their wedding Lycius’s mentor Apollonius arrives and warns Lycius about her. He is able to see Lamia’s previous serpent-like self when Lycius seems blinded to it. When Lycius still cannot see beyond Lamia’s beauty Apollonius stares at Lamia until her serpent shape is exposed to Lycius and then Lamia vanishes, leaving Lycius to die of heartbreak.
Looking at the poem through the lens of Mulvey’s theory Apollonius can be seen as cutting through the male gaze and exposing Lamia for what she truly is (a serpent-woman). Lycius seems incapable of seeing Lamia as anything except spectacle. This is illustrated by how he did not notice Lamia before she had Hermes make her beautiful. This concept of beauty as attracting the attention of a male gaze is echoed in Mulvey’s discussion of the film Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock, in which Lisa is “continually putting herself on visual display for Jeff so that he will notice her.” (Modleski 725). Lamia’s beauty objectifies her, making her become noticed by the people of Corinth as well. Lycius wants to show her off in public because of her beauty and so she becomes a spectacle. Worse still Mulvey would point out that Lamia tries to tailor herself into becoming the object of a male gaze for Lycius’s love. Modleski criticizes Mulvey for seeing Lisa in Rear Window as “only a passive object of male gaze” saying she ignores the “full complexity of woman’s contradictory situation” and “risk[s] acquiescing in masculine contempt for female activities.” (725). In the same way Mulvey’s theory would condemn Lamia, who is working to empower herself with in a strongly patriarchal society.

The name Apollonius suggests the sun god Apollo, so it can be deduced that Apollonius serves as a light (like the sun) that exposes truth in a world that is veiled by shadows and lies. Despite this when Apollonius exposes Lamia as a serpent-woman this paints Lamia in a bad light. Apollonius makes Lamia into a monster, claiming that she is trying to deceive Lycius. In a patriarchal society any woman who does not fit the bill exactly as to how women should behave becomes just such a monster. Apollonius destroys Lamia in a very real way. No one is going to love or trust a serpent-woman. The connection with the Adam and Eve story makes the spectator as uneasy as Lycius upon this revelation.

However, looking at the poem solely from this angle would be problematic. It seems no matter how the poem is read though it results in Lamia being the object of the critical male eye. If the poem were to be read as Apollonius possessing the male gaze this would work also. Apollonius sees Lamia’s serpentine form, but we cannot be sure this is her true form. Lamia tells Hermes at the beginning of the poem that she “was a woman” and asks that she may be restored to “a woman’s shape, and charming as before.” (lines 117-118). This suggests that if her true shape is that of a woman, she has for some reason been cursed with her serpentine form. If this is true (and the male gaze in the poem makes it hard to trust Lamia’s words) then Apollonius does not expose Lamia for what she truly is but instead destroys her by making Lycius see her in the wrong light. Within the poem itself it is said,

Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries of rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine –
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade. (lines 234-238).

Lamia is compared with an Angel whose wings are clipped by philosophy. The image of an Angel with clipped wings suggests a demonizing of it. Therefore the poem is saying that philosophy has the ability to make what is beautiful become monstrous. As Apollonius is a philosopher he can be seen as a force that will destroy Lamia’s beauty.

Either way Lamia is under a critical male gaze which depicts her as either a beautiful object of desire or a monstrous manipulator. Both of these depictions are very common ways depict women in literature, which was for centuries dominated by male writers. Women were to be mistrusted and feared when they acted to set their own goals in motion. When they remained submissive to men then they became objects of desire, satisfying the role of sexual partner, wife and mother. In a submissive role women did not challenge the authority of patriarchal society. This depiction of women who defied the patriarchy as monstrous reared its ugly head in creating harsh consequences for women, sometimes taken to their logical extreme such as in the case of the practice of witch hunting. It is often the case in literature that women “who become aligned with monsters, are typically shown themselves to represent threats to the patriarchy and hence require punishment.” (Freeland 629). In the case of Lamia is capable of getting things for herself and so she might be seen as a threat to the patriarchy. Also her love threatens Lycius’s relationship with philosophy (represented by Apollonius) and is keeping Lycius from the male sphere of society. This could be seen as problematic, forcing Apollonius to expose Lamia as a serpent-woman.

Mulvey’s theory works better with some literature and films better than with others. Films that Mulvey’s theory works well with are police films and films to do with the justice system. The action is often disrupted in these by the introduction of female characters. Alfred Hitchcock films also lend themselves to Mulvey’s theory. In fact she used a couple of them in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” to illustrate voyeurism within film. She wrote, “Hitchcock has never concealed his interest in voyeurism, cinematic and non-cinematic.” (719). Mulvey’s theory works well with the film and literary genre of horror because of the over-dramatisation of female characters. Mulvey’s theory also works well with love poetry, although it is often devoid of a plotline. Females are often objectified in love poems. A good example is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 in which he is describing his lover’s appearance. Films that do not work as well with Mulvey’s theory include Tim Burton films, children’s films and films such as Bend it like Beckham, in which females are allowed to play a dominant and empowering role which does not rely on a male coming in to save the day. An example of a literary genre in which this theory does not work well is the romance novel genre. In this genre it is usually the male that becomes the object of a female gaze. This is likely because these books are often geared towards a female readership. In many cases poetry also does not lend itself to Mulvey’s theories because it often has no plot and the object of the gaze is very fluid. Love poems are an exception because of the way they objectify women.

In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” the problem has always been “how to fight the unconscious structured like a language (formed critically at the moment of arrival of language) while still caught within the language of the patriarchy.” (712). Mulvey herself attempted to create films devoid of the male gaze with the help of her former husband and fellow film theorist, Peter Wollen. To do this they used avante garde film techniques, such as causing the spectator to be forced into realizing they are viewing a film, which is separate from reality. This process has been repeated by many avante garde film makers. An example Laura Mulvey uses in her article “Repetition and Return” comes from Kiarostami’s film And Life Goes On, where it is scripted that one of the actors cannot find a prop necessary for a particular scene and so he calls “the script girl, [who] runs on set to give it to him.” (22). Kiarostami’s films commonly work to undermine the male gaze in order to give voice to those who are usually undermined. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Mulvey states, “However self-conscious and ironic Hollywood managed to be, it always restricted itself to a formal mise-en-scene reflecting the dominant ideological concept of the cinema. The alternative cinema provides a space for a cinema to be born which is radical in both a political and an aesthetic sense and challenges the basic assumptions of the mainstream film.” (712). It is also interesting then to see that more recently men are beginning to become spectacles in popular films, causing a disruption of the male gaze in these films. An example of this is Jacob in New Moon, the second film in the Twilight series. Many women flocked to the theatres to see Jacob’s “hot body” while completely ignoring the rather thin plotline developed in the Bella’s whiny narrative voice. The male image as a spectacle seems to have real marketability leading to the creation of new films that are able to move beyond the male gaze. It can be hoped that their plots will blossom as this trend progresses. If they do this may well be a way through popular film and literature are able to move beyond the restrictions of the scopophilic gaze.

Works Cited

Chaudhuri, Shohini. Feminist Film Theorists: Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, Teresa de Lauretis, Barbara Creed. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Freeland, Cynthia A. “Feminist Frameworks for Horror Films.” Film Theory & Criticism. Eds. Braudy, Leo, and Marshall Cohen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009. 627-631.

Keats, John. “Lamia.” (1820). Excerpt from British Literature 1780-1830. Ed. Mellor, Anne K., and Richard E. Matlak. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1996. 1298-1308.

Malleski, Tania. “From the Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory: The Master’s Dollhouse: Rear Window.” Film Theory & Criticism. Eds. Braudy, Leo, and Marshall Cohen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009. 723-725.

Mulvey, Laura. “A Clumsy Sublime.” Film Quarterly. 60.3 (2007) 3.Mulvey, Laura. “Repetition and Return.” Third Text. 21.1 (2007) 19-29.

Mulvey, Laura. “Repetition and Return.” Third Text. 21.1 (Jan 2007) 19-29.

Mulvey, Laura “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory & Criticism. Eds.
Braudy, Leo, and Marshall Cohen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009. 711-722.

Mulvey, Laura. Visual and Other Pleasures. Eds. Heath, Stephen, Colin MacCabe and Denise Riley. Hampshire: Palgrave. 1989.

“Spectator and Audience.” Film Theory & Criticism. Eds. Braudy, Leo, and Marshall Cohen. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009. 659-664.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Awesome Jazz Piece!

This is my boyfriend and his little brother and dad playing. His little brother is majorly talented! Check it out! :-)

Link if the embed isn't working for you:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Check out Eightsense!

This is my good friend Eightsense who is a hip hop artist out of Baltimore. He is currently hosting an online live show every Saturday night at 9:30pm Eastern time. During his show he plays hip hop that he has been involved in making or songs that have been sent into him by other artists. Also he plays a few songs by well known artists. Definitely worth a gander!

Here is a link to the page where he broadcasts:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

T'ai Pu in Performance

I was privileged to see a wonderful beat poet called T'ai Pu the other night. He was born in Trinidad and now is based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada). He was wonderful at working the audience, getting us all feeling involved and upbeat. I got the chance to go up on stage and hold up a poster of words the audience had brainstormed when he was free-styling. He was wonderfully appreciative. I wish I could find a video of him to share with you but the ones I found so far had poor sound quality and did not do him justice.

He incorporates his own Shamanistic beliefs into his poetry which perhaps makes him unique to any other beat poet I have scene. His excellent sense of humor and on the spot witty comments kept the whole audience amused. Definitely worth checking out if you ever get the chance!