Prof. Dr. Barbara Mennel
Barbara Mennel is an Associate Professor in Film Studies and German Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida where she was awarded the Waldo W. Neikirk Professorship for 2013-14 and 2014-19. She is the author of three sole-authored books, Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboys (2012), Cities and Cinema (2008), The Representation of Masochism and Queer Desire in Film and Literature (2007), and two co-edited volumes, Turkish German Cinema for the New Millennium: Sites, Sounds, and Screens (with Sabine Hake, 2012) and Spatial Turns: Space, Place, and Mobility in German Literature and Visual Culture (with Jaimey Fisher, 2010). She served as the Director of the Center for Film and Media Studies from 2010-13. For her current project on the representation of women and work in contemporary European cinema, she was awarded the Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in summer 2013 and the Women in German Faculty Research Award in 2015. She has begun a new collaborative research project on “Global Cities and Cinema” for which she received a grant by the Global Architecture History Teaching Collective (with Vandana Baweja) in 2015 as well.
- Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboys. London: Wallflower Press, 2012. French Translation: Le Cinéma queer. Paris: L'Arche, 2013.
- Cities and Cinema. London: Routledge, 2008. (Chinese translation forthcoming May 2016)
- The Representation of Masochism and Queer Desire in Film and Literature. New York: Palgrave, 2007.
- Turkish German Cinema for the New Millennium: Sites, Sounds, and Screens. Co-edited with Sabine Hake. Oxford: Berghahn, 2012. Paperback edition, 2014.
- Spatial Turns: Space, Place, and Mobility in German Literature and Visual Culture. Co-edited with Jaimey Fisher. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010.
Women and Work in Contemporary European Cinema
During my stay at FRIAS I intend to complete a book-length study on the representation of women and work in contemporary European cinema. Since 2000, European films about this topic have mushroomed. I ask what these films tell us about the changing nature of labor in the early twenty-first century. These films capture the daily grind of nursing, cleaning, typing, and sewing. They also show women succeeding in male-dominated professions as managers, doctors, politicians, and photographers. Characters of different classes, nations, and age groups engage in legal, semi-legal, and illegal activities; they perform paid and unpaid labor; and they are under- or unemployed. Female characters work in thriving capitalist metropoles or in dilapidated factories in former communism. Some films use social realism, the mode of representation associated with labor since the inception of cinema. Others follow the genre conventions of musicals, thrillers, biopics, romantic comedies, sports films, or science fictions. Work features centrally in independently produced art films and political essay films as well as in blockbusters. In contrast to the 1970s, when second-wave feminism politicized women’s work and only female feminist directors took on the topic, now both female and male directors address women’s work. The emphasis on women in films about work constitutes a qualitative change from the traditional depiction of male industrial laborers who confronted a factory owner in a strike. I argue that the current importance of women in films about labor indicates a radical shift in our cultural understanding of work.