Introduction: Women, Cinema, Nation #

As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.

–Virginia Woolf

A still image of female baseball players singing the national anthem, from the film A League of Their Own.

Since our class meets once a week, we are diving right in on the first day with an introduction to the course and a discussion of the three terms we are going to keep in mind during the semester: women, cinema, nation. We’ll start by asking some simple questions that in fact have complicated answers: what are women? What is a nation? Why should we examine these categories through cinema?

In the field of literary studies, “theory” is all about playing with words, phrases, definitions–turning things around and looking at them from unexpected angles, unsettling our own expectations through language. We will be troubling the boundaries of categories very queerly, so any of these terms–women, cinema, nation–can be ripped to pieces or burnt or scattered on the wind.

For our first weekly response, keep in mind that you don’t just have to write boring old academic prose! You could create drawings, micro-films, manifestos, witch’s spells, photo essays, interactive games, recipes, collages–if you can dream it up and get it done, you can turn it in.

After discussing the topics of women, cinema, and nation in class, and watching A League of Their Own, respond to the following questions:

  • What is a “woman” according to the film?
  • What is “American” according to the film?
  • How do these two categories–women and American–overlap or interact in the film?