Authors@UF: Dr. Barbara Mennel

Barbara Mennel
Rothman Chair and Director, Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere
Associate Professor, Departments of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and English.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
3:30 p.m., Smathers Library, Room 100

Women at Work in Twenty-First-Century European Cinema 

University of Illinois Press, 2019

From hairdressers and caregivers to reproductive workers and power-suited executives, images of women’s labor have powered a fascinating new movement within twenty-first century European cinema. Social realist dramas capture precarious working conditions. Comedies exaggerate the habits of the global managerial class. Stories from countries battered by the global financial crisis emphasize the patriarchal family, debt, and unemployment. Barbara Mennel delves into the ways these films about female labor capture the tension between feminist advances and their appropriation by capitalism in a time of ongoing transformation. 
Looking at independent and genre films from a cross-section of European nations, Mennel sees a focus on economics and work adapted to the continent’s varied kinds of capitalism and influenced by concepts in second-wave feminism. More than ever, narratives of work put female characters front and center–and female directors behind the camera. Yet her analysis shows that each film remains a complex mix of progressive and retrogressive dynamics as it addresses the changing nature of work in Europe.

Barbara Mennel’s research interests include transnational cinematic practices, feminist and queer theory, and the intersection of urban studies and film studies. She is author of four books on literature and film and two co-edited volumes, including Women at Work in Twenty-first Century European Cinema (2019). The second revised edition of her book Cities and Cinema (Routledge, 2008) is forthcoming this June. She is currently working on a director study of experimental filmmaker Su Friedrich, under contract with University of Illinois Press as well.

Women at Work Book Cover