The Unruly Woman

9780292770690: Paperback
Release Date: 1st January 1995

15 b&w photos

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 282

Series Texas Film and Media Studies Series

University of Texas Press

The Unruly Woman

Gender and the Genres of Laughter

Paperback / £24.99

Unruly women have been making a spectacle of themselves in film and on television from Mae West to Roseanne Arnold. In this groundbreaking work, Kathleen Rowe explores how the unruly woman—often a voluptuous, noisy, joke-making rebel or "woman on top"—uses humor and excess to undermine patriarchal norms and authority.

At the heart of the book are detailed analyses of two highly successful unruly women—the comedian Roseanne Arnold and the Muppet Miss Piggy. Putting these two figures in a deeper cultural perspective, Rowe also examines the evolution of romantic film comedy from the classical Hollywood period to the present, showing how the comedic roles of actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, and Marilyn Monroe offered an alternative, empowered image of women that differed sharply from the "suffering heroine" portrayed in classical melodramas.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Feminist Film Theory and the Question of Laughter
  • Part One: The Unruly Woman
    • 1. Pig Ladies, Big Ladies, and Ladies with Big Mouths: Feminism and the Carnivalesque
    • 2. Roseanne: The Unruly Woman as Domestic Goddess
  • Part Two: Female Unruliness in Narrative Cinema
    • 3. Narrative, Comedy, and Melodrama
    • 4. Romantic Comedy and the Unruly Virgin in Classical Hollywood Cinema
    • 5. Professor-Heroes and Brides on Top
    • 6. Dumb Blondes
    • 7. Masculinity and Melodrama in Postclassical Romantic Comedy
  • Afterword: Shape-Shifting
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index

Kathleen Rowe (now Kathleen Rowe Karlyn) is Professor of English and Director of the Cinema Studies Program at the University of Oregon.