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American Postfeminist Cinema

Women, Romance and Contemporary Culture

Michele Schreiber

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Examines a cycle of postfeminist films that adopt the conventions of romance

In light of their tremendous gains in the political and professional sphere, and their ever expanding options, why do most contemporary American films aimed at women still focus almost exclusively on their pursuit of a heterosexual romantic relationship? American Postfeminist Cinema explores this question and is the first book to examine the symbiotic relationship between heterosexual romance and postfeminist culture. The book argues that since 1980, postfeminism’s most salient tensions and anxieties have been reflected in the American romance film. Case studies of a broad range of Hollywood and independent films reveal how the postfeminist romance cycle is intertwined with contemporary women's ambivalence and broader cultural anxieties about women's changing social and political status.

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List of Illustrations
Introduction: Women, Postfeminism and Romance
1. Both Glad and Sorry: Romance Cycles and Women’s Politics
2. Pragmatism vs. Sentimentality: Amelioration in the Postfeminist Cycle
3. Past vs. Present: Temporality in the Postfeminist Cycle
4. Sexy vs. Funny: Sexuality in the Postfeminist Cycle
5. Independence vs. Dependence: Economics in the Postfeminist Cycle
Conclusion: Beginnings vs. Endings: The Future of the Postfeminist Cycle
Selected Bibliography

About the Author

Michele Schreiber is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Emory University. She is the author of American Postfeminist Cinema: Women, Romance and Contemporary Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2014) and articles on postfeminist media and contemporary independent and Hollywood filmmakers. Her work has appeared in Journal of Film and Video and anthologies including American Independent Cinema: Indie, Indiewood and Beyond, Feminism at the Movies and Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History.


'Schreiber’s text provides a valuable insight into the continued influence of postfeminist anxieties surrounding heterosexual romance on contemporary American cinema. Her framework of the conventions of the ‘postfeminist romance cycle’ offers a useful method for analysis that could be expanded upon in further research projects. The text will be of interest to scholars in the fields of gender and sexuality, film and romance, in addition to cultural historians and researchers of American Studies in general.'
- Krystina Osborne, Liverpool John Moores University, CERCLES

Michele Schreiber’s nuanced, hugely rewarding book is a brilliant analysis of the ways in which the mythology of heterosexual romance continues to regulate as well as to complicate the conventions of postfeminist cinema. Dissolving boundaries between comedy and drama, film and other media, she offers original and lively readings of an array of films that demand mixed responses, concentrating on key topics such as nostalgia, ‘girlhood’, the tensions between female dependency and autonomy, all in a clear and accessible style.

- Peter William Evans, Queen Mary, University of London

'In her well-researched and cogently argues book, Michele Schreiber explores the disconnect between the reality of women’s personal, economic, and social gains and cinematic representations of women in the twenty-first century.'

- Sarita Cannon, Journal of Popular Film and Television

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