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ReFocus: The Films of Amy Heckerling

Edited by Frances Smith, Timothy Shary

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A collection of interdisciplinary essays, collected for the first time, on the work of filmmaker and screenwriter Amy Heckerling

Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High are affectionately regarded as key foundations of the modern Hollywood teen movie. However, the director and screenwriter for these films, Amy Heckerling, is far from a household name, despite the major influence she has had on contemporary US cinema.

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Film and Television Work by Amy Heckerling

Chapter 1: Introduction, Frances Smith and Timothy Shary

I: Heckerling in Teen Film and Television
Chapter 2: Cher and Dionne BFFs: Female Friendship, Genre, and Medium Specificity in the Film and Television Versions of Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, Susan Berridge
Chapter 3: Fast Times with Clueless Losers: Lessons on Sex and Gender in Amy Heckerling’s Teen Films, Zachary Finch
Chapter 4: “As If a Girl’s Reach Should Exceed Her Grasp”: Gendering Genericity and Spectatorial Address in the Work of Amy Heckerling, Mary Harrod

II: Ingenuity and Irony in the Heckerling Lexicon
Chapter 5: Consumerism and the Languages of Class: American Teenagers View Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, Andrea Press and Ellen Rosenman
Chapter 6: “An increasingly valid form of expression”: Teen-speak and Community Identity in the Work of Amy Heckerling, Lisa Richards

III: Femininity, Ageing, and Postfeminism
Chapter 7: Look Who’s Doing the Caring: Shared Parenting, Subjectivity, and Gender Roles in Heckerling’s Look Who’s Talking Films, Claire Jenkins
Chapter 8: Amy Heckerling’s Place in Hollywood: Issues of Aging and Sisterhood in I Could Never Be Your Woman and Vamps, Betty Kaklamanidou
Chapter 9: “Staying Young is Getting Old”: Youth and Immortality in Vamps, Murray Leeder

IV: Reflections on the Heckerling Oeuvre
Chapter 10: “But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl”: The Teenage Female Empowerment Payoff in Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, Stefania Marghitu and Lindsey Alexander
Chapter 11: Clueless Times at the Ferris Bueller Club: A Critical Analysis of the Directorial Works of Amy Heckerling and John Hughes, Kimberly M. Miller
Chapter 12: Way Hilarious: Amy Heckerling as a Female Comedy Director, Writer, and Producer, Lesley Speed

Appendix: Other Films and Television Shows Cited in this Collection

About the Author

Frances Smith is Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sussex. She is the author of 'Rethinking the Hollywood Teen Movie' (Edinburgh University Press, 2017), which combines close textual analysis and critical theory to argue that the genre possesses a distinct narrative and aesthetic.

Timothy Shary is the author of Teen Movies: American Youth on Screen (Wallflower, 2005) and Generation Multiplex: The Image of Youth in American Cinema Since 1980 (Texas, 2014). He teaches at Eastern Florida State College.


'The editors and contributors did an excellent job showing the impact and continued relevance of Clueless, Fast Times and Ridgemont High, and the Look Who’s Talking films. I was particularly stuck by the evaluation of the language and words used in her films, as well as the subtle ways that Heckerling was able to place women and women’s issues into the films in a way that was not isolating and did not result in her films being labelled as "chick flicks".'

- Emily L. Newman, Journal of Popular Film and Television

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