A Qualitative Analysis of Female Protagonists in Popular Science Fiction Cinema, From 2010 to 2019

Horan, Maria (2021) A Qualitative Analysis of Female Protagonists in Popular Science Fiction Cinema, From 2010 to 2019. Doctoral thesis, Dundalk Institute of Technology.

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This thesis investigates the representation of female protagonists in the top grossing science fiction films worldwide over the course of a decade, 2010 to 2019. While there has been an emphasis on the lack of female representation in cinema in quantitative terms, this research aims at addressing a dearth in the knowledge by focusing qualitatively on the representations being created. The research determines whether these female protagonists are objectified in line with historical trends in mainstream cinema and whether any progress has been made in terms of shifting representations. It questions representations of femininity, agency, and diversity by investigating the portrayals found in the corpus of films. Through textual analysis, incorporating elements of discourse analysis, thirty-one films are analysed. The research determines that women’s representations within the genre largely uphold patriarchal ideals. In most cases this tendency reflects cultural anxieties relating to shifting definitions of gender and identity and results in stereotypical representations of femininity. The majority of female protagonists also remain objectified on-screen with the “male gaze” still present in this contemporary corpus of films. However, the research also acknowledges a positive shift occurring, with a number of exceptions to this general rule. Women’s representations are sometimes positively linked to STEM subjects and concentrated efforts have been made to create progressive representations in some instances. These alternative representations are often linked to an increase in the number of key female crew members involved in the film production process, most notably as directors and/or writers. This research claims that while mainstream cinema continues to offer stereotypical patriarchal hegemonic representations of women, when women’s voices are privileged and they appear in key production roles more progressive representations tend to occur.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Women; Film
Subjects: Arts and Humanities > Film and Media Studies
Research Centres: UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Sean McGreal
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2021 20:32
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2021 20:39
License: Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0

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