"Cinema and Spectatorship" is the first book to focus on the history and role of the spectator in contemporary film studies. Judith Mayne examines how spectatorship emerged in the 1970s as one of the major preoccupations of film theorists, particularly in relation to theories of the subject drawn from psychoanalysis and semiotics. She suggests that while 1970s film theory insisted on the separation between the cinematic subject and actual film viewers, interest in spectatorship has been characterized by a very real friction between "subjects" and "viewers." She evaluates challenges to and revisions of 1970s theory, from feminist analyses of female spectatorship to historical explorations of how the film-spectator relationship is shaped by particular cultural factors.
In the first section Mayne examines three theoretical models of spectatorship: the perceptual, the institutional, and the historical. The second section presents case studies which focus on textual analysis, the "disrupting genre," "star-gazing," and finally the audience itself. Specific topics include the place of the spectator in "The" "Picture of Dorian Gray"; the construction of Bette Davis's star persona; fantasies of race and film viewing in "Field of Dreams" and "Ghost"; and gay and lesbian audiences as "critical" audiences. "Cinema and Spectatorship" provides a thoruogh and accessible overview of this complex, fragmented, and often controversial area of film theory.