‘I am not particularly despondent yet’: the affective life of a feminist film in post war Britain – Public Lecture

osted by the Department of Gender Studies

Sadie Wearing’s lecture explores the affective life of the 1951 ‘equal pay film’ made by Jill Craigie, To Be a Woman.

The lecture  is based on research on the production and distribution history of the film held in the UK National Union of Women Teachers archive and considers the relation of this context to the form and political tone of the film.

The film is informed by, and relates to, Craigie’s interest in a longer history of feminist campaigning but it also offered an occasion for her to articulate a form of manifesto of film practice and politics which speaks to the post-war moment for British documentary and non-fiction filmmaking more generally.

The lecture offers a reading of the film which draws out both some of the tensions of this context and the articulation of the imagined future of gender equality at this time.  In considering the production and distribution context of the film the paper offers an account of the affective dynamics or (after Williams) the ‘structure of feminist feeling’ within which the film was produced and disseminated.

This short campaign film, I argue is indicative of Craigie’s attempts at this point in her career to produce explicitly political, accessible and ‘popular’ socially transformative film. The lecture puts this film in the context of ongoing debates within feminism and gender and film  studies over what it means ‘to be a woman’ in the film industry, in the archive,  and beyond.

For further information about this event, please see: lse.ac.uk/gender/events/2019-20/’I-am-not-particularly-despondent-yet’-the-affective-life-of-a-feminist-film-in-post-war-Britain