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Technology and Femininity in Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine

Technology and Femininity in Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine This article examines the intersection of technology and femininity in Marcel L'Herbier's 1924 silent film L'Inhumaine, focusing on the film's articulation of a figure of machine-woman who may be read as alternately inhuman and posthuman. The article draws on previous scholarship by Maureen Shanahan and others who have read the film through the lens of queer theory, but contends that any queer potentiality is effectively shut down at the end of the film. Offering a new reading of the mysterious machine that is used to reanimate and transform the heroine, I argue that the vision of a posthuman, technologically-mediated woman that emerges at the end of the film is far from emancipatory, and that despite its questioning of normative femininity, L'Inhumaine ultimately advances a conservative gender politics that chimes with a broad social and cultural retour à l'ordre in 1920s France. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Technology and Femininity in Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine

Modernist Cultures , Volume 14 (2): 24 – May 1, 2019

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2019.0252
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines the intersection of technology and femininity in Marcel L'Herbier's 1924 silent film L'Inhumaine, focusing on the film's articulation of a figure of machine-woman who may be read as alternately inhuman and posthuman. The article draws on previous scholarship by Maureen Shanahan and others who have read the film through the lens of queer theory, but contends that any queer potentiality is effectively shut down at the end of the film. Offering a new reading of the mysterious machine that is used to reanimate and transform the heroine, I argue that the vision of a posthuman, technologically-mediated woman that emerges at the end of the film is far from emancipatory, and that despite its questioning of normative femininity, L'Inhumaine ultimately advances a conservative gender politics that chimes with a broad social and cultural retour à l'ordre in 1920s France.

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: May 1, 2019

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