The New Woman International: Representations in Photography and Film from the 1870s through the 1960s

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Overview

"In The New Woman International, editors Elizabeth Otto and Vanessa Rocco have gathered a group of intellectually stimulating and provocative essays that present the emergence, both tentative and triumphant, of this new global icon and her increasingly multicultural image. Written largely by historians of art and film, these essays emphasize visual analysis of the photographic and film media that carried the new woman's influential message."
---Norma Broude, American University

"The New Woman International focuses on the New Woman not simply as an image to be analyzed but also as a producer of images and text. This groundbreaking anthology represents a theoretically sophisticated set of essays that thoroughly examine the phenomenon of the New Woman in previously unexplored ways."
---Sarah E. Chinn, Hunter College, CUNY

Images of flappers, garçonnes, Modern Girls, neue Frauen, and trampky---all embodiments of the dashing New Woman---symbolized an expanded public role for women from the suffragist era through the dawn of 1960s feminism. Chronicling nearly a century of global challenges to gender norms, The New Woman International: Representations in Photography and Film from the 1870s through the 1960s is the first book to examine modern femininity's ongoing relationship with the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' most influential new media: photography and film. This volume examines the ways in which novel ideas about women's roles in society and politics were disseminated through these technological media, and it probes the significance of radical changes in female fashion, appearance, and sexual identity. Additionally, these original essays explore the manner in which New Women artists used photography and film to respond creatively to gendered stereotypes and to reconceive of ways of being a woman in a rapidly modernizing world.

The New Woman International brings together different generations of scholars and curators who are experts in gender, photography, literature, mass media, and film to analyze the New Woman from her inception in the later nineteenth century through her full development in the interwar period, and the expansion of her forms in subsequent decades. Arranged both chronologically and thematically, these essays show how controversial female ideals figured in discourses including those on gender norms, race, technology, sexuality, female agency, science, media representation, modernism, commercial culture, internationalism, colonialism, and transnational modernity. In exploring these topics through images that range from montages to newspapers' halftone prints to film stills, this book investigates the terms of gendered representation as a process in which women were as much agents as allegories. Inaugurating a new chapter in the scholarship of representation and New Womanhood and spanning North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, and the colonial contexts of Africa and the Pacific, this volume reveals the ways in which a feminine ideal circled the globe to be translated into numerous visual languages.

With a foreword from the eminent feminist art historian Linda Nochlin, this collection includes contributions by Jan Bardsley, Matthew Biro, Gianna Carotenuto, Melody Davis, Kristine Harris, Karla Huebner, Kristen Lubben, Maria Makela, Elizabeth Otto, Martha H. Patterson, Vanessa Rocco, Clare I. Rogan, Despina Stratigakos, Brett M. Van Hoesen, Kathleen M. Vernon, and Lisa Jaye Young.

Jacket illustration: Germaine Krull, Self-Portrait, 1925. Gelatin silver print. 20.5 × 15.1 cm. Collection of Ann and Jürgen Wilde, Zulpich. Copyright Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany.

DIGITALCULTUREBOOKS: a collaborative imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the University of Michigan Library

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Editorial Reviews

German Studies Review
"The New Woman International has accomplished an enviable level of coherence, organization, and balance. It covers a broad geographic and historical range while maintaining a tight thematic and theoretical focus; it encompasses diverse scholarly approaches and manages to bring them into a coherent and meaningful conversation with each other; and finally, it succeeds in producing a true interdisciplinary polyphony, without losing sight of the unifying subject of study: the role of the New Woman in the technology-based visual arts of film and photography. It is not difficult to imagine that all of the contributions to this volume, including the excellent introductory essay, could become required reading for students in a variety of disciplines: the visual arts, German studies, and women’s studies."
German Studies Review

— Mila Ganeva, Miami University of Ohio

German Studies Review - Mila Ganeva
"The New Woman International has accomplished an enviable level of coherence, organization, and balance. It covers a broad geographic and historical range while maintaining a tight thematic and theoretical focus; it encompasses diverse scholarly approaches and manages to bring them into a coherent and meaningful conversation with each other; and finally, it succeeds in producing a true interdisciplinary polyphony, without losing sight of the unifying subject of study: the role of the New Woman in the technology-based visual arts of film and photography. It is not difficult to imagine that all of the contributions to this volume, including the excellent introductory essay, could become required reading for students in a variety of disciplines: the visual arts, German studies, and women’s studies."
German Studies Review
International Center for Photography - Brooke Duffy
"This book is particularly relevant in this current era, in which it is more important than ever for us to be adept at analyzing messages in visual media. This is a necessary and potent text for anyone interested in visual culture and feminism."
International Center for Photography
Afterimage - Robert Hirsch
"The New Woman International delivers an exciting, fresh, and diverse examination of the imagery, consumer culture, metropolitan life, and technology that gave rise to startlingly innovative feminine symbols that changed gender norms."
Afterimage
The Latchkey - Judy Suh
"For readers interested in feminist modernism and popular culture, the editors have assembled truly stellar examples of new methodologies in book history, periodical studies, global modernisms, film studies and multimedia studies."
The Latchkey Journal of New Woman Studies
Woman's Art Journal - Joanna Roche

"In addition to its significance to scholars, the interdisciplinary nature of this collection recommends it as an excellent reader for courses covering nineteenth- and twentieth-century photography, mass media, and, above all, feminist history." —Woman's Art Journal
Modernism/modernity - Liz Conor
"[The New Woman International] shows why visual autonomy was so important to women’s political and domestic emancipation, and it contributes to the recent project to draw out transnational linkages between these syndicated modern feminine types with much detail, diversity, and applied creative analysis."
---Modernism/modernity
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472071043
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 3/2/2011
  • Pages: 364
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Otto is Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Vanessa Rocco is Assistant Curator at the International Center of Photography and Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Design at the Pratt Institute in New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Imagining and Embodying New Womanhood Elizabeth Otto Vanessa Rocco 1

Part 1 The First New Women: Photography, Politics, and the Public Place of Women from the 1870s Through the First World War

1 The New Woman in American Stereoviews, 1871-1905 Melody Davis 21

2 The New Woman Exposed: Redefining Women in Modern Japanese Photography Jan Bardsley 39

3 Female Firsts: Media Representations of Pioneering and Adventurous Women in the Early Twentieth Century Despina Stratigakos 56

4 Domesticating the Harem: The New Woman in Colonial Indian Photography, 1895-1915 Gianna Carotenuto 71

Part 2 Art and Identity: Gender Constructions in Photography and Photomontage of the 1920s

5 Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism: Constructing the Weimar New Woman out of a Colonial Imaginary Brett M. Van Hoesen 95

6 Hannah Höch's New Woman: Photomontage, Distraction, and Visual Literacy in the Weimar Republic Matthew Biro 115

7 Acting the Lesbian: Les Amies by Germaine Krull Clare I. Rogan 135

8 Paris-Dessau: Marianne Brandt and the New Woman in Photomontage and Photography, from Garçonne to Bauhaus Constructivist Elizabeth Otto 153

Part 3 Mass Media Icons: The New Woman as Embodiment of Transnational Modernity

9 Mistaken Identity in Fritz Lang's Metropolis Maria Makela 175

10 "Chocolate Baby, a Story of Ambition, Deception, and Success": Refiguring the New Negro Woman in the Pittsburgh Courier Martha H. Patterson 194

11 Bad Girls: The New Woman in Weimar Film Stills Vanessa Rocco 213

12 Girl, Trampka, or Zába? The Czechoslovak New Woman Karla Huebner 231

13 Girls and Goods: Amerikanismus and the Tiller-Effect Lisa Jaye Young 252

Part 4 Girls and Crisis: The New Woman in the 1930s and Beyond

14 Women, Fashion, and the Spanish Civil War: From the Fashion Parade to the Victory Parade Kathleen M. Vernon 273

15 A New American Ideal: Photography and Amelia Earhart Kristen Lubben 291

16 Modern Mulans: Reimagining the Mulan Legend in Chinese Film, 1920s-60s Kristine Harris 309

Contributors 331

Index 339

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