In "Star Gazing, " Jackie Stacey puts the female back into the spectator, or the girl back into girl-watching. Combining film theory with a rich body of ethnographic research, the book investigates how women viewews understood Hollywood stars in the 1940s and 50s. Stacey's study challenges the universality of psychoanalytic theories of female spectatorship, prevalent within film studies for the past 20 years.
Drawing on letters and questionnaires from over 300 filmgoers, the author investigates the significance of particular Holywood stars in women's memories of wartime and postwar Britain. Among the stars discussed by Stacey and her subjects are Doris Day, Joan Craford, Betty Grable, Ava Gardner, Deanna Durbin, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers, Jennifer Jones and Dorothy L'Amour.
Three key processes of spectatorship--escapism, identification and consumption--are explored in terms of their multiple and changing meanings for women spectators of the time. Stacey's work demonstrates the importance of cultural and national location for the meanings of female spectatorship, redirecting questions of popular culture and female desire.
"This is one of the most original and ground-breaking contributions to feminist film theory. Once I started the manuscript I couldn't put it down. . .superbly engaging."
-Judith Mayne, Ohio State University, author of "Cinema and Spectatorship