Sounding Girl(y), Girl(y) Sounds: Music and Girlhood in Contemporary French Cinema
Date: 8 April 2019
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PhD in Film
This thesis explores the relationship between music and girlhood in contemporary French cinema, arguing that music provides a means of navigating the experiences and sensations of girlhood, while also retaining a certain opacity and privacy for the girl subject. Where current postfeminist media studies present a predominantly Anglo-centric ...
This thesis explores the relationship between music and girlhood in contemporary French cinema, arguing that music provides a means of navigating the experiences and sensations of girlhood, while also retaining a certain opacity and privacy for the girl subject. Where current postfeminist media studies present a predominantly Anglo-centric approach to the girl figure, this thesis opens up the study of cinematic girlhood representation into a Francophone context. Music, with its ability to transcend linguistic restrictions and slip between the verbal and the non-verbal, is particularly compelling for this analysis, and has typically been ignored, both in studies of girlhood representation, and in French film studies more generally. This thesis therefore identifies and tackles two main gaps in current scholarship. On the one hand, it addresses the need to move beyond the current Anglo-centric approach to the girl figure, demonstrating the need for linguistic and locational diversity within the field. On the other hand, it addresses the lack of scholarly interventions that deal with film music in a specifically French context, extending and enriching the existing field of film music study beyond Hollywood and arguing that music is highly significant to French cinema. Exploring a range of French girlhood films spanning the decade between 2005 and 2015, the thesis develops detailed case studies to highlight specific modes of meaning and identification. These studies bring together work in both film studies and musicology, presenting an interdisciplinary approach to film music that is rarely seen in scholarship. Asking why these two disciplines so rarely speak to each other, the thesis demonstrates the benefits of combining detailed musicological analysis with film theory and cultural studies, in order to fully examine the different layers of meaning that manifest in film music. By exposing these layers of meaning, this thesis maintains that it is important to listen to, as well as watch, the girl figure. Arguing that music enables a means of girlhood expression that escapes the confines of the body and transcends the verbal, this thesis moves beyond current studies of girlhood representation which focus determinedly on the visible, highlighting music’s vital role in making the girl experience accessible and putting forward a theory of girlhood audibility.
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