Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2024

Faculty Advisor(s)

Emily Carman, Kelli Fuery


In her 1975 article "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," Laura Mulvey used psychoanalysis as a political weapon to critique the issue of the male gaze in traditional Hollywood narrative cinema. Mulvey's work is pioneering for feminist film studies but was criticized and reexamined among film and feminist scholars. Building on the precedent of Mulvey and the feminist research of Luce Irigaray, contemporary scholar Lucy Bolton has proposed the camera as an "Irigarayan speculum," explaining how certain contemporary films delve into female characters' inner worlds, creating them with subjectivity and diversity. Drawing on contemporary feminist film theories and phenomenology theories, I argue that women in contemporary films have undergone a transformation from objects to subjects. Through an in-depth analysis of two films released after 2020, Petit Maman (2021) and Aftersun (2022), I will demonstrate how female filmmakers incorporate the "Irigarayan speculum" into films, exploring female characters' inner worlds and shaping their subjectivity. Both films integrate female characters' memories by breaking linear time, tracing back to their personal history, and validating the diversified shaping process of female characters in body, psyche, and personality while providing audiences with unique viewing experiences. As milestones in contemporary cinema post-2020, these two films affirm the process of women moving toward subjectivity on screen.


Presented at the Spring 2024 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.