Accounts of Voyeurism in Rear Window Film Theories Major Research Essay


approximately 4000 words (15 double spaced pages, 12
pt. font)This is a research essay that builds upon your Annotated Bibliography, and
therefore I will expect your tightly structured and argumentative essay to proceed
via the support, discussion and interrogation of your research.
Your draft should be near complete—if it is less than about 12 pages then I
cannot offer you adequate suggestions for revision.
The following topics are intentionally broad in order to allow you to accommodate
your particular research interests—therefore you must narrow them down in
order to provide your essay with a specific and argumentative thesis that can be
convincingly pursued in the space available to you. I encourage you to come
and meet with me to discuss your topic. Your essay and its apparatus—including
its bibliography, references and endnotes—must be formatted according to the
MLA Handbook.

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Surname 1
Annotated Bibliography
With reference to a specific film, compare and contrast Christian Metz’s and Laura
Mulvey’s accounts of voyeurism, fetishism and identification. Which is more useful? How
and why?
I will attempt to highlight the major differences between Mulvey and Metz’s accounts of
voyeurism, fetishism, and identification using Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). The
sources in this bibliography include Mulvey and Metz’s (in no relevant order) and three
additional sources arranged in order of importance to my essay. Primarily, my essay will
compare the two works based on their essential analysis of the three topics as they relate to the
community and the period the film was produced. I will be looking for the source, between the
two, that effectively places the ideas of voyeurism, fetishism, and identification in the
contemporary society as related to Rear Window. From an overview of the sources and the
additional analysis, here is a preliminary thesis statement: Laura Mulvey’s account of voyeurism,
fetishism, and identification is better articulated than Metz’s because the former effectively
places her theory in the development of feminism structures in the 20th century hence effectively
capturing Hitchcock’s portrayal of society in Rear Window.
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Metz, Christina. “The Imaginary Signifier: Loving the Cinema; Identification, Mirror;
Disavowal, Fetishism.” Critical Visions in Film Theory: Classic and Contemporary
Readings. Ed. Timothy Corrigan, Patricia White and Meta Mazaj. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011, s17-33.
While drawing on the theories of spectatorship theorists such as Baudry to explain and
expand the notion of cinematic apparatus involved in the ‘imaginary signifier.’ The main
argument of developed by Metz is that the spectatorship experience is fashioned by the
interlocking mechanisms of the individual and cinema institutions such as production.
This essay will be the basis for comparison with Mulvey’s on their importance to
understanding Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). I will use theories advanced by Metz to
advance an understanding and argument of how the individual’s experience intersects
with the work of the cinema creator to bring out the spectatorship experience. I will use
this analysis, therefore, to understand how viewership of Rear Window may be affected
by the individual’s understanding of voyeurism and the film’s portrayal of the same.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Critical Visions in Film Theory:
Classic and Contemporary Readings. Ed. Timothy Corrigan, Patricia White and Meta
Mazaj. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011, 713-723.
Laura Mulvey uses psychoanalysis to advance several arguments about how the human
experience interacts with cinema viewership. Primarily, she claims that the scopophilic
instinct of humanity and ego libido are bases on which cinema creators capitalize to
design and deliver the spectatorship experience. She presents the psychoanalytic
understanding of women as objects of gaze and men as the bearers of the gaze hence
explaining voyeurism and identity. Mulvey’s essay will be compared to Metz’s in
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understanding voyeurism and spectatorship in Rear Window. Specifically, I will use this
source to define the relationship between the viewer and the person being viewed as seen
in the film. It will be used to argue for the theory that voyeurism is based on the
objectification of women in society and could also be seen as an aspect of domination
and assertion of the male-chauvinistic identity in society.
Kelly, David. “Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Rear Window’ and American romance.” Sydney Studies in
English 43 (2017): 1.
David Kelly presents a review of Rear Window using the scope of American romance and
Hollywood romance to create meaning in the film’s reflection of the nation’s state. He
claims that the setting of the film in the 1950s invokes its connection to the Cold War era.
He advances the theory that the idea of voyeurism as shown in the film is connected to
the anxious watchfulness of the Cold War and the development of sexual anxieties and
obsessions in society. This resource is crucial in highlighting the topic of voyeurism as
connected to society and how the society’s ideas are reflected in cinema. I will use this
resource to further advance the idea of the male’s role in society as seen in the film. The
masculine ideas of the male as watchful and rightfully deserving as seen in male
chauvinistic ideas as seen in society can be attributed to the era of the film production.
Albrechtslund, Anders. “Surveillance and ethics in film: Rear window and the
conversation.” Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 15.2 (2008): 129-144.
In his analysis of two films on surveillance, the author of this article articulates the ethical
dilemma of surveillance and the intersection it has with voyeurism. Albrechtslund
explains that Hitchcock seems to justify voyeurism as the nature of humanity. He further
advances the film’s focus to present the surveillance and voyeurism as entailing the
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model of a panopticon where the person watching holds power over those being watched.
This article is crucial to my essay because it looks into the issue of voyeurism as it
connects to the idea of power and masculinity. I will use the article to reinforce Mulvey’s
idea of the woman as the object of gaze and the man as the viewer and show how this
works to create power imbalance and control in the film Rear Window.
White, Susan. “Alfred Hitchcock and Feminist Film Theory (Yet Again).” The Cambridge
Companion to Alfred Hitchcock, edited by Jonathan Freedman, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge, 2015, pp. 109–126. Cambridge Companions to American Studies.
Susan White discusses Hitchcock as a feminist in general while referencing his work
such as Rear Window and analyses of other feminists such as Mulvey. Primarily, she
explains that Hitchcock was controversial in his depiction of feminism through his
voyeuristic ideas and definition of identity in his film but this controversy sparked
interests and enhanced discussions surrounding the topic of feminism. Generally,
therefore, this article is a commentary of Hitchcock’s work with a close analysis of Rear
Window and analysis of Mulvey’s work. I will use it to ascertain Mulvey’s influence on
the topic of voyeurism and also show the power of Hitchcock in defining the topic of

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Film Theorists


Laura Mulvey

Film Theory Response

Rear Window

Christian Metz

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