During my years at the University of Massachusetts, I have dedicated myself to an extensive study of the entire — but still limited — corpus of Spanish women filmmakers. To overcome the limitations of the terms “feminine cinema,” “feminist cinema,” “cinema by women” or “women’s cinema,” and to respond to the crisis of naming in feminist film criticism denounced by Ruby Rich, I named this corpus “gynocine.” I argue that, first, the new term avoids the connotations that are implicit in the adjective “feminist” and displaces them from the text to my interpretation. In other words, I am the one who is engendering this corpus through my feminist perspective. Gynocine is not necessarily feminist, but its interpretation is. Second, this term avoids mere biological limitations, because in order to belong to gynocine a film doesn’t have to be necessarily directed by a cisgender woman, if its scope is gynocentric and feminist. Third, if not all cinema is gynocine, and not all gynocine is feminist cinema, all films directed by women belong to gynocine, because all women, including those who explicitly distance themselves from feminism, cannot escape from a system of practices and institutions that discriminates in terms of sex-gender. Finally, gynocine also includes other “authors” since movies aren’t just created by their director. A screenwriter, or even an actor, can be considered as “authors.”
In my monographs I approach gynocine according to three different angles: Desenfocadas (Barcelona: Icaria, 2014) develops an analysis of the historical evolution of gynocine through four generations of Spanish women directors; La pantalla sexuada (Madrid: Cátedra, 2014) is a cross-sectional study of the major concepts that have been influential in feminist film theory and the shaping of gynocine; and, finally, El género del género (in progress) focuses on the most common genres of gynocine, such as melodrama, comedy, thriller, etc., by tackling the so called genre/gender debate.
Funded by a University of Massachusetts Digital Humanities Initiative seed grant, the Gynocine Project --that I have been directing since 2011-- develops an open access online database on gynocine's production. The original outcome of this project was to offer resources related to the production of women directors in the Spanish state, but its scope has recently expanded to other countries of Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
In collaboration with Raquel Medina (Aston University, Birmingham, UK), I have funded the international interdisciplinary research group CinemAGEnder, that has the objective to study age and gender in visual culture. CinemAGEnder aims to deconstruct stereotypes related to aging, gender and sexuality in visual culture (with emphasis in cinema) mainly within, but not limited to, the Spanish context.
The interdisciplinary nature of CinemAGEnder extends beyond the academic area with the determination to create a network of collaboration with social agents, associations or nongovernmental entities, social groups and the public. In this way, in the network participate, amongst others, the Association of Actresses "De 50 para arriba", CIMA (Asociación de mujeres en el audiovisual), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain, Lesgaicinemad, etc. The network also emphasizes the need for the fields of artistic creation, academic research in visual culture and gerontology / geriatrics to work together to achieve the objective of raising awareness about the discrimination suffered by older people.
Women Film Pioneers in Spain
Until very recently, the presence of a female gaze in the origins of “the moving image” in Spain was limited to little more than a speculation. Unlike what has happened to British, American, French and Italian histories of cinema, that have recovered the work of their first women directors, in Spain it is practically impossible to find a woman behind the camera during the silent era. Since the publication of Susan Martin-Márquez’s book Feminist Discourses in Spanish Cinema in 1999 a few female names have been rescued from oblivion –Helena Cortesina, Carmen Pisano, Isabel Roy and Elena Jordi. In a few publications, these names have been added to that of Rosario Pi Brujas, who for years was mentioned as the first woman director in the histories of Spanish cinema (if she was mentioned at all). However, as in the case with many films of this era, the work of these women pioneers, to date, has disappeared, and very little information has been gathered.
The goal of this project is to fill this void and to recover a female tradition of filmmakers.
On this topic I am working on a long term project funded by a UMASS Faculty Research Grant/ Healey Endowment Grant (FRG/HEG) and on a videographic essay "Women Film Pioneers of the Camara: the Off Screen"
Click here to watch the video-essay (please request the password by emailing me)
I have been a member of the Research Goup Cos i Textualitad (Body and textuality) based at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona,since its formation in 2005. The research group, directed by Meri Torras, studies the body as
a text that results out of the inscription and re-inscription of cultural
discourses, a place where debating and discussing are transformed constantly.
The body has been presented to us as natural, not cultural; prefixed and immediate, not constructed or mediated; anatomic, exterior, superficial, not psychological, not interior, nor deeep; set, not changing, especially concerning gender-sex categories. It is set under the label of normative discourses which act as a form of control. The body is a representation of the body itself, a place where identity remains.
“Images of the Other: Immigration on contemporary Spanish Literature and Film (1990-2005)” is a research project based at the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación between 2005 and 2009.
Directed by Montserrat Iglesias, the project focuses on the representation of the immigrant "Other" through different artistic practices in contemporary Spain. Literature, drama and cinema, among others, have their particular way to react towards this new Spanish reality.
“Images of the Other” has planned different seminars, courses and supervises some doctoral thesis. The project is also collecting a catalogue of textbooks, films and images about the immigrant’s imaginaries in order to support its current research and similar ones in the future.
Adaptations, Transmedialities, Translations
Film Adaptation: Theory and Practice
On the topic of film adaptations, in addition to several articles in which I analyze specific case studies, I published an edited volume with the title Teoría y práctica de la adaptación fílmica (Madrid, Complutense, 2012). The idea of working on an edited book on film adaptations started in a graduate class, “From Paper to Celluloid,” that I taught in 2008, and continued with a Research Practicum that I offered as a teaching overload. I wanted to equip my students with the necessary skills to be able to transform their papers into publishable material. This is how Teoría y práctica de la adaptación fílmica (Madrid: Editorial Universidad Complutense, 2012) was born. The volume includes essays written by five UMass students, in addition to ten more articles by well-known scholars in the field of Film Adaptations. The volume is introduced by my 44-page chapter “La adaptación multiplicada” with a chronological table that summarizes the major arguments of adaptation theories.
Teoría y práctica de la adaptación fílmica focuses on practical examples of Spanish film adaptations. The essays are arranged chronologically (from the adaptation of Golden Age classics to that of contemporary works) and thematically (memory, politics, gender, and so on). What’s more, the study is not limited to the adaptation of literary works, but includes that of “other” texts, such as comics, video games and the remakes. The common goal of the collected essays is to analyze the fundamental differences between the written word and the visual image by going beyond questions of fidelity. Instead of addressing “what” and “how” a text is transformed and translated into another text, my goal is to reflect upon the surprisingly little studied ideological implications of such operations (the “why” of adaptations) --including, of course, gender implications.
The interest on Adaptation Studies has grown considerably in the last years, and my book has become part of the reading lists of numerous classes (such “Creación Literaria-Guión para los medios audiovisuales”, at the University Complutense of Madrid, “Adaptaciones: Transmedialidad y convergencia de medios”, at the University of Granada, “Del guión al filme” at the University of Córdoba, among others).
As it has been argued recently by Phylis Zatlin (2005), Gillian Lathey (2006) and John Milton (2009) the connection between Adaptation Studies and Translation Theory is very close and Translation Studies has a lot to contribute to Adaptation Studies. This relationship should receive more attention and I am very happy to have a chance to explore it, first hand, since 2014, as Director of the University of Massachusetts Translation Center.