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Shifting Theories of Gender, Sexuality, and Media

Designed for classroom use, this anthology of influential articles from Spectator, the highly regarded film studies journal published by USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, offers historical perspectives on the intersections of gender, sexuality, and media spectatorship.

November 2017
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304 pages | 6 x 9 | 10 b&w photos | Hardcover has a printed case, no dust jacket |

Media platforms continually evolve, but the issues surrounding media representations of gender and sexuality have persisted across decades. Spectator: The University of Southern California Journal of Film and Television Criticism has published groundbreaking articles on gender and sexuality, including some that have become canonical in film studies, since the journal’s founding in 1982. This anthology collects seventeen key articles that will enable readers to revisit foundational concerns about gender in media and discover models of analysis that can be applied to the changing media world today.

Spectatorship begins with articles that consider issues of spectatorship in film and television content and audience reception, noting how media studies has expanded as a field and demonstrating how theories of gender and sexuality have adapted to new media platforms. Subsequent articles show how new theories emerged from that initial scholarship, helping to develop the fields of fandom, transmedia, and queer theory. The most recent work in this volume is particularly timely, as the distinctions between media producers and media spectators grow more fluid and as the transformation of media structures and platforms prompts new understandings of gender, sexuality, and identification. Connecting contemporary approaches to media with critical conversations of the past, Spectatorship thus offers important points of historical and critical departure for discussion in both the classroom and the field.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. Gender, Sexuality, and Media: Audience and Spectatorship (Roxanne Samer and William Whittington)
  • Part 1. Revisiting Film Subjects and the Pleasures of Cinema
    • Chapter 1. Feminine Discourse in Blackmail (Amy Lawrence)
    • Chapter 2. Venus in Furs: Masoch, Deleuze, and the Films of von Sternberg (Gaylyn Studlar)
    • Chapter 3. “You Don’t Know What It Is to Look White and Be Black”: The Black Press Mediates Race in the Classic Hollywood Studio System, 1930–1940 (Anna Everett)
    • Chapter 4. Joe Dallesandro—A “Him” to the Gaze: Flesh, Heat, and Trash (Stephen Tropiano)
  • Part 2. Speaking Up and Sounding Out
    • Chapter 5. Unheard Sexualities?: Queer Theory and the Soundtrack (Scott D. Paulin)
    • Chapter 6. The Articulation of Body and Space in Speak Body (Christie Milliken)
    • Chapter 7. “I Kinda Prefer to Be a Human Being”: Roseanne Barr and Defining Working-Class Feminism and Authorship (Melissa Williams)
    • Chapter 8. Riot Grrrl: It’s Not Just Music, It’s Not Just Punk (Mary Celeste Kearney)
  • Part 3. Queering Media
    • Chapter 9. Soap Slash: Gay Men Rewrite the World of Daytime Television Drama (Hollis Griffin)
    • Chapter 10. From Excess to Access: Televising the Subculture (Eric Freedman)
    • Chapter 11. Pronoun Trouble: The “Queerness” of Animation (Sean Griffin)
  • Part 4. Containment and Its Critiques
    • Chapter 12. Of Fleiss and Men: The Transgressions and Containment of a Hollywood Madam (Mary Celeste Kearney)
    • Chapter 13. Out on Stage: LGBT Politics of Entertainment Award Shows (Raffi Sarkissian)
    • Chapter 14. Lesbian Cop, Queer Killer: Leveraging Black Queer Women’s Sexuality on HBO’s The Wire (Jennifer DeClue)
  • Part 5. Fandom and Transmedia
    • Chapter 15. Resurrection of the Vampire and the Creation of Alternative Life: An Introduction to Dark Shadows Fan Culture (Harry M. Benshoff)
    • Chapter 16. The Rumors Are True!: Gossip Girl and the Cooptation of the Cult Fan (Elena Bonomo)
    • Chapter 17. The Trouble with Transmediation: Fandom’s Negotiation of Transmedia Storytelling Systems (Suzanne Scott)
  • Contributors
  • Index

Los Angeles, California

Samer is visiting faculty in visual and media arts at Grand Valley State University. In 2016–2017, she served as the postdoctoral scholar–teaching fellow in cinema and media studies at the University of Southern California, where she edited Spectator 37.2 (Fall 2017), a special issue dedicated to the study of transgender media.

Los Angeles, California

Whittington is the assistant chair of cinema and media studies at the University of Southern California. He has been the managing editor of Spectator since 2002.


“The essays [in Spectatorship] are interesting and are chock full of the vitality of new academic engagement that remains the strength of the USC journal.”
Film International

“The ability of Spectatorship’s contributors to touch on such a vast range of alternate subjectivities in its examination of representations of gender and sexuality across a broad media landscape is, undoubtably, its key strength...the volume does a stellar job showcasing a diverse range of perspectives on various related issues.”
Popular Culture Studies Journal

“An important collection that brings together very early work by some major scholars, including Gaylyn Studlar, Amy Lawrence, Sean Griffin, Mary Celeste Kearney, and Harry M. Benshoff. It will give film scholars and, especially, graduate students an illuminating vantage point on the history of a major topic, spectatorial theory, that defined film studies methodologically and as a discipline.”
Steven Cohan, Syracuse University, author of Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value, and the MGM Musical

“This is a very well-conceived and well-executed anthology. It will be particularly helpful for a course focused on gendered and sexed experiences of media culture and their intersections with other aspects of identity.”
Elana Levine, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, coauthor of Legitimating Television: Media Convergence and Cultural Status


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