Unmediated representations of women’s everyday subjective experiences of historical events are difficult to find in discourses about masculinity and femininity. Discussions often centre on normative expressions of sexual difference, explaining the ways in which patriarchy was reconstituted rather than focusing on women’s experiences. Late nineteenth century strands of nationalist thought in the Bengal relied on gendered ideas about the nation, self, and society in their representations of womanhood, which served as a symbol of the nation. Various historians have explored the idealised versions of women that these discourses presented, but often these studies fail to examine portrayals of the subjective experiences of women who might have confronted these gendered ideological standpoints. This paper suggests that using film as an archive to explore depictions of female subjectivity can be useful, especially to feminist and gender researchers who are searching for new ways of conceptualising the everyday experience of women in the past. It raises questions about how, if ever, experience can be used as evidence in history, how portrayals of articulations of difference and resistance are helpful for writing gender history, and why film is a fruitful archive in which to imagine how women might have experienced and expressed their dissatisfaction with gender-normative roles within the patriarchal family setting. It discusses ideas about speaking and articulation in scholarship on women in the past, to posit that film is a useful place to imagine women’s articulations of difference from the Other that patriarchal discourses would cast them as.
Bengali Art House Cinema, Women’s Subjectivity, and History: Satyajit Ray’s Use of Silence in Charulata (1964) and Devi (1960).
Journal of International Women's Studies, 19(1), 50-62.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol19/iss1/5