Project revision, introduction – progress at last!

I’ve proposed a significant revision to my honours project. This is what I sent to my supervisor:

Title: Feminisms in Bed Together: Feminist Pornography and Feminist Responses to Pornography (or something similar)

Introduction: Lay out the structure of the project, including why the films were chosen and why they are relevant to a discussion of feminist pornography in conversation with feminist responses to pornography. Introduce Nostalgia in brief detail so that it can be tied to the lit review.

Lit review: Significant focus on feminist responses to pornography, moving through MacKinnon/Dworkin/Morgan extreme anti-porn stance, through anti-censorship feminist responses to this stance, through later pro-porn feminist writing. I want to address feminist writing (or lack, in the case of consent!) about the tropes I’m focused on, also, to tie into the analysis: coercion/consent, passivity/agency, homogeneity/diversity, and objectification. Rather than having a fifth focus on filmic elements and the voyeuristic camera, I am going to include this in the discussion of my four tropes (ie – how does the camera/posing/lighting/etc contribute to or subvert these tropes; how does the feminist pornographer respond to feminist critiques in their use of the film?) I think that this structure for the lit review will allow me to cover the necessary ground and still tie the review quite tightly to the analysis, which will be the second half of the project.

Analysis: Courtney Trouble’s “Nostalgia” and the four scenes that she has remade. This will tie better to the lit review because the four original scenes are from the Golden Age of porn and are representative of what the first wave of anti-porn feminists were arguing against, while Trouble herself comes out of the third wave pro-porn feminist movement. The choice of title seems like a good point of analysis (are we really nostalgic for those times??) and the way that she chooses to queer and reimagine the iconic scenes also seems like it can neatly tie into the lit review’s focus on film theory and on-going feminist writing about the tropes I’m focusing on.

What this cuts out of my project is any focus on the Feminist Porn Awards (I will mention them, of course, but they will no longer be a significant part of the analysis), and it cuts out a significant number of films since I will not be including the full films being remade by Trouble. (I will do her full film, and the four scenes from the golden age films.) This cuts the total analysis from 4 full films (approx. 25-30 scenes, not including transition scenes) to 1 film and 4 scenes (8 scenes total, not including the transition scenes in Nostalgia). The four films included in Trouble’s remake are Behind the Green Door, The Devil in Miss Jones, Babylon Pink and Deep Throat.

This seems more manageable and more cohesive. What do you think?

I haven’t heard back yet.

I have conflicted feelings about this proposed change. On the one hand I really do think that this will be a more manageable project. On the other hand, it is so far removed from the project I had originally wanted to do, the one that I was working on this summer when I was getting to excited about Whores and Other Feminists and writings like it… *sigh*

Making the lit review a full half of my project limits the project so drastically. I won’t be able to do anything more than a sliver of what I had hoped for the project, and the bulk of the work will be reviewing other people’s work rather than doing my own original work. I suspect that this means my chances of turning this into something publishable are much more slim. But it will give me a really solid grounding for doing future work, which may be publishable. So, there’s that. And focusing on a single film means that I can do a lot more scene-by-scene close-readings, which is good because it’ll give me a grounding in how feminist film theory intersects with my interests in representations of gender and sexuality.

It sucks to be throwing out a huge amount of work for the second time in one project (a more generous interpretation would be that I am just putting aside the work). And it’s good work! It’s award-winning work! But I really don’t think it can fit into this new structure without being wedged in awkwardly and ineffectively.

So. Hopefully my supervisor will approve the change. Despite my (extremely) mixed feelings, I do think that this will not only be a more doable project, but the end result will be more smooth and fully integrated. Less awesome… but better than the alternative. And given how far behind I am in every single class, I think doable trumps awesome (just this once. Or maybe for the rest of this year.)

And in my London term paper, progress! It’s not much, but it’s not nothing. I finally have some actual writing done for my London paper:

Time Tables for Ghost Trains: Techno-Temporal Hauntings in

Iain Sinclair’s Downriver and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

            As the character Door says “[t]here are little pockets of old time in London, where things and places stay the same, like bubbles in amber” (Gaiman 228). I will argue that these “pockets” contain not only “things and places” but also people and the echoes of their actions and thoughts. These haunted pockets are present not only in the London of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere but also in the similarly spectral London of Iain Sinclair’s Downriver. Both novels continue the Gothic tradition of “play[ing] with chronology, looking back to moments in an imaginary history” (Bruhm 259). But where the ghosts of classic Gothic were tied to architectural structures (CITE), the ghosts of Gaiman and Sinclair’s contemporary Gothic are detached from architectural place and travel by technological train, representing the deregulation of time (Sinclair 3484) brought in with the railways. This paper will explore two specific techno-temporal railway hauntings, one from each novel: Edith Cadiz/Mary Butts haunting the train in Chapter 6 of Downriver, and Richard Mayhew being haunted by figures from his past on the train platform in Chapter 12 of Neverwhere. These scenes will be examined as representations of contemporary Gothic texts, and will be compared to determine how each engages in “historical excavations that self-reflexively incorporate knowledge of the Gothic genre itself” (Luckhurst 529). I will demonstrate that the focus on trains and railways marks a new psychogeography, one in which charted space is fluid, disconnected from immovable castles and architectural structures, the “mirrored glass and cantilevered concrete” (Luckhurst 531) of stationary London, and also that the railways represent a reiteration of one of the “original impetuses of the Gothic: fears of reversion to arbitrary and oppressive rule” (Luckhurst 537), here represented by the merciless rule of railway time and time tables.

Works Cited

Bruhm, Steven. “The Contemporary Gothic: Why We Need It.” The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Ed. Jerrold E. Hogle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Web. Kindle book.

Gaiman, Neil. Neverwhere. 1996. New York: HarperCollins e-books, 2008. Web. Kindle book.

Luckhurst, Roger. “The Contemporary London Gothic and the Limits of the ‘Spectral Turn’.” Textual Practice 16.3 (2002): 527-546. Web. TandFonline.com. 24 Oct. 2012.

Sinclair, Iain. Downriver. 1991. London: Penguin Books, 2004. Web. Kindle book.

It needs work (“technological trains”? derp) but it’s a start. And I think it gives me a decent structure for the final essay. Start with a discussion of the role of ghosts and hauntings in Gothic writing, and how these hauntings often point to social anxieties, move into a discussion of psychogeography and how the trains expand that idea, then a discussion of the importance of architecture in the Gothic genre and how the trains might indicate a shift happening within contemporary Gothic away from classic Gothic tropes (I still need to flesh this research out), and finish with the “oppressive rule” which I will expand from the trains to technology in general and tie back into the idea of social anxieties. It’s not the mindblowingly awesome paper I wanted to write, but I need to just get it finished, and today (for the first time in months) I was actually able to write something that has some value. Woot.