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Rethinking the Hollywood Teen Movie

Gender, Genre and Identity

Frances Smith

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An analysis of the Hollywood Teen Movie from a variety of key theoretical perspectives

Rethinking the Hollywood Teen Movie is the first academic monograph to consider the aesthetic and narrative potential of this highly popular, yet often overlooked, film genre. Reconsidering tropes such as the male juvenile delinquent figure, the makeover and the teen vampire, the book uses a series of detailed case studies of key films like Rebel Without a Cause, Grease, Heathers and Twilight to explore the genre’s relation to key critical concepts of intersectionality, postfeminism and the posthuman, and provides an innovative overview of the Hollywood teen movie and its construction of teen identity.

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List of Figures


  1. Introduction
  2. Rethinking the Teen Movie
  3. Acting Up: Performing Masculine Delinquency in the Teen Movie
    1. Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)
    2. Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978)
    3. Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1989)

  4. Making Over: Gender and Class at the High-School Prom
    1. Pretty in Pink (Howard Deutch, 1986)
    2. She’s All That (Robert Iscove, 1999)
    3. Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004)

  5. Looking Back: Nostalgia, Postfeminism and the Teen Movie
    1. American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)
    2. Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino, 1987)
    3. Easy A (Will Gluck, 2010)

  6. Becoming Other: The Posthuman and the Teen Movie
    1. Spider-Man (Sam Raimi, 2002)
    2. Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008)
    3. Chronicle (Josh Trank, 2012)

  7. Conclusion: Not Another Teen Movie?



About the Author

Frances Smith is Teaching Fellow and Convenor of the Writing Lab at University College London. She has published widely on the construction of gender in popular culture, and holds a PhD in Film and Television Studies from the University of Warwick.


Smith’s work here is distinctively knowledgeable, and it will be highly valued among the evolving studies of youth cinema.  The genre needs some rethinking, and Smith delivers in her analysis with cogent insights, solid research, and significant aesthetic perspectives that other surveys have elided.

- Timothy Shary, author of Generation Multiplex (2002; 2014) and Teen Movies (2005)

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