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Postfeminist Whiteness

Problematising Melancholic Burden in Contemporary Hollywood

Kendra Marston

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Addresses postfeminist media culture’s emphasis on socioeconomic privilege

In the first extended study into the politics of whiteness inherent within postfeminist cinema, Kendra Marston interrogates representations of melancholic white femininity in contemporary Hollywood cinema, arguing that the ‘melancholic white woman’ serves as a vehicle through which to explore the excesses of late capitalism and a crisis of faith in the American dream. This figure may be idealised or scapegoated within these films, yet strategic performances of gendered melancholia may produce benefits for white female directors and stars disadvantaged within a patriarchal industry. Examining film genres including the tourist romance, the fantasy film and the psychological thriller, the book also contains case studies of films like The Virgin Suicides, Blue Jasmine, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

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List of Figures


Chapter One: The World is Her Oyster: Negotiating Contemporary White Womanhood in Hollywood’s Tourist Spaces

Chapter Two: "Hoist the Colours!" Framing Feminism through Charismatic White Leadership in the Fantasy Blockbuster

Chapter Three: Neoliberalism, Female Agency, and Conspicuous Consumption as Tragic Flaw in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine

Chapter Four: Paranoid Attachments to Suburban Dreams: Pathological Femininity in Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train

Chapter Five: Aristocratic Whiteness, Body Trauma, and the Market Logic of Melancholia in Black Swan

Chapter Six: Sofia Coppola’s Melancholic Aesthetic: Vanishing Femininity in an Object-Oriented World




About the Author

Kendra Marston completed her PhD in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland, Australia. Her research interests include critical race and whiteness studies, postfeminist media studies, Hollywood cinema, stardom and celebrity and costume and cinema. She has published in Cinema Journal, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Film, Fashion & Consumption.


A significant advance in the literature on postfeminist popular culture, Postfeminist Whiteness deftly theorizes the recurrent figure of the female screen melancholic and her function in assessing/managing the failures of capitalism.  The book will be an indispensable resource for understanding contemporary dynamics of gender, race and cinema.

- Professor Diane Negra, Film Studies and Screen Culture, University College Dublin

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