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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF3047 The Complete Marilyn Monroe: The Cultural Analysis of an Icon of the 20th Century

20 creditsClass Size: 26

Module manager: Prof Griselda Pollock
Email: G.F.S.Pollock@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

Pre-requisite qualifications

Students wishing to take this module as an elective at level three must have completed at least 20 credits from ARTF 2000 or any other level two ARTF coded module

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

PRE-REQUISITES: Students wishing to take this module as an elective at level three must have completed at least 20 credits from ARTF 2000 or any other level two ARTF coded module.The module uses the case study of Marilyn Monroe to examine 'woman as sign' in modern Western culture. It will also provide an opportunity to review the extended range of debates about femininity, class, race and representation. 'Marilyn Monroe' was an instance of what Roland Barthes defined as 'Myth' in his study 'Mythologies' (1957) which will be a theoretical starting point for the analysis of Marilyn Monroe in three systems of representations: cinema, photography and the star system. The module will involve screenings of Monroe movies and detailed analysis of the fabrication of Monroe's physique and face and their function as a sign within these filmic texts. This further raises the issues of the fetishistic representation of the female body in classic Hollywood cinema.Assessment: 1 x 1 hour exam (50%) and 1 x 2-3,000 word essay (50%)

Objectives

On completion of this module, students will be able to perform a range of cultural analyses of the images, films, biographies and representations of Marilyn Monroe in terms of semiotics (Barthes), feminist film theory (Mulvey), psychoanalysis (Kristeva). The module will consider all aspects of the making of the icon Monroe, through management of the body, face, hair, clothes, films, documentaries and posthumous uses of her image in other artists' works. The students will also learn to undertake critical readings of the biographies and their diverse investments in the death of Marilyn and the class, race and gender meanings of the life of the orphan factory girl who became a symbol of white American sex in the era of the Cold War. The module will also introduce students to a feminist discourse on and analysis of the meaning of Monroe for women through theoretical writings and art works. Combining an introduction of film analysis with the larger field of cultural studies, this module will enable students to read and deconstruct the mythic in twentieth-century culture.

Skills outcomes
Verbal and written fluency in constructing a logical and coherent argument.
Use of audio visual aids
Participation in group discussions
Co-ordination and dissemination of a range of historical, contextual visual information
Using bibliographies and databases


Syllabus

The module will use the case study of Marilyn Monroe in order to examine 'woman as sign' in modern Western culture. It will also provide an opportunity to review the extended range of debates about femininity, class, race and representation. I) 'Marilyn Monroe' was an instance of what Roland Barthes defined as 'Myth' in his study 'Mythologies' (1957) which will be a theoretical starting point for the analysis of Marilyn Monroe in three major systems of representations: cinema, photography and the star system. Monroe was the product of the movies in which she starred, wherein she is spoken of as 'the body'. The course will involve screenings of Monroe movies and detailed analysis of the fabrication of Monroe's physique and face and their function as a sign within these filmic texts (Cowie 1978). This further raises the issues of the fetishistic representation of the female body in classic Hollywood cinema (Laura Mulvey - 'Visual Pleasure and the Narrative Cinema') II) Monroe is also a folk legend in American culture. Her life story and her death have generated a range of literature from popular biographies to cultural histories such as Norman Mailer's book and the recent work of Graham McCann(! 1988). There is also a minor industry in filmed versions of the life story and documentaries. This section will use sociological and feminist models (McCann, Irigaray) and comparative film studies to consider Monroe as an icon of modernity, femininity and death. III) As popular icon Monroe signified American whiteness. This section of the course will compare and contrast Monroe with other screen goddesses and icons of sexuality who were similarly coded in terms of whiteness (Dyer 1986) and consider films and art works which challenged the racialisation of sexuality and visual pleasure in the 1950s and since. IV) What of women's investment in the image of Monroe, identification with her as a victim, comedian or lost object? This section of the course will use a number of texts to explore femininity and desire in relation to the image of Woman, for instance by reconsidering Kristeva on Bellini or Dora's fascination with the Dresden Madonna by Raphael and concluding with work by Mary Ann Doane and Tania Modleski on women and consumption as it was and is articulated through women's relation to the cinematic complex - the films, the stars, the culture of femininity which produces and circulates.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Film Screenings113.0033.00
Seminar112.0022.00
Private study hours145.00
Total Contact hours55.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

145 hours - reading and class preparation plus essay preparation and writting

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- attendance at seminars/film screenings (record of attendance kept)
- contribution to class discussions

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000-3,000 word essay50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated


Exams
Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 01/04/2009

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