Seminar, History of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Online Event

Movie-Mad Girls: Female Suicidality in Early Twentieth-Century United States

Author: Diana W. Anselmo, California State University 
Comment: Michael Rembis, University at Buffalo

Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 5:00PM - 6:15PM

This is an online event.

Diana W. Anselmo’s work explores the cultural and political reach of “bad feelings” beyond the strictly psychoanalytic. She turns attention to the archives of self-injury underwriting silent-film female fandom to track the impact segregation and social denial have had on young women throughout US history, and to interrogate how Hollywood cinema works to reaffirm feelings of exclusion and belonging in immigrant, poor, nonwhite, nonconforming, and/or disabled female consumers. In this paper, Anselmo surveys published reports of a movie-motivated “girl suicide” wave sweeping the United States around World War I. Highlighting girls’ own words as preserved in crime reports and suicide letters, Anselmo argues that, though easily interpreted as artifacts of female failure, movie-inspired suicide notes, criminal testimonies, and forensic reports can be read as testaments of queer film reception: a powerful nonnormative response to conservative iconography, a grievance-driven media attachment that willfully went against conventions regulating female propriety, well-being, and recovery by instead embracing moral, social, and legal disobedience.

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Online Event

The virtual seminar begins at 5:00 PM and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.