Films for the Feminist Classroom (FFC) is hosted by the Department of Multicultural Women's and Gender Studies at Texas Woman’s University. FFC, an online, open-access journal, publishes film reviews that provide a critical assessment of the value of films as pedagogical tools in the feminist classroom. Special features, such as interviews with filmmakers, reviews of film festivals, and discussions about pedagogy, further promote engagement and discussion and support our aims to serve as a resource for educators and librarians and to enhance feminist curricula, bringing film into the classroom through thought-provoking, relevant, and dynamic content. Formerly, the Rutgers-based editorial offices of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and the Rutgers Women's and Gender Studies Department hosted this journal.
Films for the Feminist Classroom issue 6.2 is here!
This issue of FFC offers a rich array of tools for educators. Our special feature, edited by Audrey Lundahl, a Ph.D. candidate in Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies at Texas Woman’s University, focuses on teaching with short films. The five contributors discuss their use of media like TED Talks, feature film clips, short films produced by ESPN, and videos of interviews with scholars and activists. In addition, two lesson plans foreground intimate moments in our familial and romantic relationships through very different media: one addresses gender and sexuality through a mainstream feature film and another the dynamics of nationality, family, and postcoloniality in a short experimental film.
In conventional college classrooms instructors are given only a few hours each week to work with students. Within this context it can be a challenge to promote basic comprehension, inquisitiveness, critical thinking, and the acquisition of skills in class, leaving few opportunities to incorporate feature-length films in a syllabus. Recognizing time constraints in such teaching environments, Lundahl asks us, “What is the value of using videos, and specifically short videos, in the classroom? How can short videos bring new voices and perspectives into classroom dialogue?”
Educators with expertise in the fields of communications, media studies, women’s and gender studies, public health, exercise science, and film studies take up these questions, presenting short essays detailing the different media they use, discussion questions, activities to assign as homework, and additional film and text resources. Tying together these disparate fields and a diverse media archive, contributors to this feature present a rich set of tools for questioning the status quo. Mehra Shirazi, Aisha K. Nasser, and Erika Behrmann analyze the production of dominant narratives and give students a way to start complicating the representations of people labeled as “other”; Shirazi and Nasser focus specifically on Muslim women whereas Behrmann foregrounds the self/other dynamic more generally. And Missy Skurzewski-Servant and Marie Westhaver approach Western norms about gender roles through quite different paths—the former through sports and the latter through the princess trope—but both ultimately question how certain ideas about femininity dominate our cultural imagination.
This issue also includes film reviews about topics such as farming and rural communities, reproductive justice, immigration and labor, the politics of beauty, ability/disability, breast-related health care, and violence against women in wartime. Despite the variety within this group, certain themes create an exciting intertextual dialogue. Several films question binaries between the global North and South as well as the global East and West; others demonstrate the inequalities built into U.S. healthcare as well as how individuals survive and thrive while navigating this system; and others still grapple with the multiple identitarian facets that shape our experiences of gender. Some of the films reviewed are Motherland Afghanistan; Harvest of Loneliness: The Bracero Program; Sins Invalid: An Unashamed Claim to Beauty; Lady Kul el-Arab; Weapon of War; Pink Ribbons, Inc.; and Women on the Land. We are also grateful to highlight Chantal Akerman in a brief In Memoriam that recognizes her provocative contributions to filmmaking.
Films for the Feminist Classroom welcomes review proposals, suggestions of regional and international film festivals to cover in future issues, and lesson plans that include film or video media. Please see our call for proposals and contact email@example.com for more information.