Coined by English art critic, John Berger, in 1972 and popularized by British feminist film theorist, Laura Mulvey, in 1973, the term “male gaze” has recently been making comebacks in trends on various social media platforms such as Tiktok, Twitter, and Instagram. It is often described with the purpose of owning the women on screen through anonymous voyeurism and, seemingly, no consequences. Directly serving as an antithesis and remarked as a response to the male gaze is that of the female gaze, which serves to look at women through a lens of power and internal beauty. Though these are newer concepts that are mostly applicable to film, they were exacted in media long before there was a proper term for them. In my fellowship, I work to analyze 19th century literature based in the United States that has been adapted into films to see how the gaze translates from the page to screen. The works that will be analyzed are The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper and the film adaptation directed by Michael Mann; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, the film adaptations directed by George Cuker and Greta Gerwig; and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and its adaptation directed by Roland Joffé.
Fiorella, Olivia, "The Gaze Through Which You See: An Analysis of the Male and Female Gaze in 19th Century Literature" (2022). English Summer Fellows. 26.
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