Patriarchy, Patriotutes, and the Panopticon in Tourneur's Cat People
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractJacques Toumeur's 1942 film Cat People reflects patriarchal America's anxieties regarding the workplace inversion of gender roles during World War II. However, since the film was released in the middle of the war, it could not quite discourage women from assuming jobs; after all, working women were vital to maintaining the economy. In this paper, I uncover the complicated and previously overlooked relationships between gendered wartime discourse and Cat People, revealing how the film puts forth an ideological imperative in an attempt to "discipline" the women of its historical moment. Using the works of René Girard, Lucia Folena, Teresa de Lauretis, and Michel Foucault, I argue that Cat People - besides working to ensure the cultural resonance of male dominance during a time when it was seemingly under attack - rehearses an important process by which patriarchal society often explains cultural collapse: the scapegoating of female sexuality.
Degree ProgramHonors College
English and Creative Writing