Next talk: ‘Can we hear ‘girlhood’? Female adolescence as musical affect in film’ 4pm, 16th Jan, HumSS280

Hello everyone! Hope you are having a good week

After last week’s cancellation, we are looking forward to finally starting our seminar series 4pm next Monday (16th Jan) in HumSS280. We are delighted to welcome Gemma Edney from the University of Exeter who will be talking to us about the film Girlhood. Her title is: ‘Can we hear ‘girlhood’? Female adolescence as musical affect in film’. Maria, our co-organiser, has personally invited Gemma after hearing her speak at a conference in June 2016. The very successful and fascinating conference was co-organised by Gemma herself and was called “Femmes Créa(c)tives: The Life and Work of Francophone Women in the Arts and Media”. Maria enjoyed Gemma’s paper so much she wants to share it with you and find out more about her work. We hope to see many of you there for what will be an enjoyable hour. We will head to Park House afterwards for a drink and a catch up!

Find out more about Gemma’s paper below…

Karidja Touré (star of Girlhood)



Recently, it seems, girls are everywhere. From film representations of girlhood coming-of-age narratives, media campaigns like “This Girl Can” and #LikeAGirl, and worldwide missions like the International Day of the Girl Child, the concept of ‘girlhood’ has become ubiquitous in modern, everyday life. But what is ‘girlhood’? How is it defined, and how is it identifiable as a media construct? This paper explores these questions through the lens of film studies, asking how it is possible for films to create identifiable girl characters. Drawing on Monica Swindle’s work asserting that the notion of “girl,” rather than being a static, age-determined object, is in fact a mutable affect or “feeling of girlhood,” I examine how this feeling can be circulated in the film medium, specifically through music. Through a musicological examination of gendered musical codes that have persisted in the Western composition tradition since the nineteenth century, this paper explores how certain musical features “sound” girl(y), and how, when partnered with a visual film image, they open up new layers of communication and identification, allowing us, as spectators, to hear and affectively experience the sensations of girlhood depicted on screen.


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