Dr Danielle Hipkins

Research interests

Danielle Hipkins welcomes enquiries about postgraduate supervision (MRes, MPhil, PhD) in all areas of Italian cinema, especially: feminist film theory, gender representation, and cinema audiences. She is also happy to supervise PhDs on the representation of gender on screen, and on postfeminism more generally.

Post-war Italian Cinema Audiences

I am working on an AHRC-funded collaborative project with colleagues at Bristol and Oxford Brookes, which examines the experience and memories of cinema-going in Italy in the 1940s and 1950s. With an emphasis on the popular, this project counters a narrative of post-war Italian cinema that privileges the viewing preferences of a relatively small group of predominantly male intellectuals. The project focuses particularly on the importance of cinema  in everyday life, and the social experience of cinema-going, by interviewing surviving audience members, analysing their responses using data analysis software, and contextualizing these responses through further archival research. We are working in close collaboration with the online oral history organization Memoro and the University of the Third Age in Italy.

You can follow our project on our website at http://italiancinemaaudiences.org/, and find out more about recent presentations of our work in the UK and Italy. We have co-authored an article on the experience of rural cinema-going in Italy and we are co-editing a book on rural cinema-going. We are also planning a conference for our project in Oxford in July 2016: Italy and Its Audiences: 1945 to the present.

(Post)Feminism, Girls and Film

One of the other aims of my recent research has been to ask how we can apply and develop feminist film theory in relation to the study of cinema, particularly the figure of the girl. Most recently I wrote an article about the representation of girlhood in contemporary Italian comedy. Together with a colleague, Fiona Handyside, I teach a module about girlhood and postfeminism in contemporary cinema, reflecting particularly on the relationship between Hollywood and European Cinema. We are also interested in how films about girlhood are received by girl audiences, and together with a colleague in education at Exeter, Alexandra Allan, and Aparna Sharma, a film-maker at UCLA, we have developed pilot projects (funded internally by HASS) in schools in Los Angeles and Exeter, in which girls watched and made their own films about girlhood.

Gender Representation in Post-war Italian Cinema: From Prostitution to Postfeminism?

My research interests in audiences have developed out of the study of the representation of gender in postwar Italian cinema from a variety of perspectives. In 2014, together with a former PhD student, Roger Pitt, I co-edited a book on the representation of the child in Italian cinema, in which I focussed particularly on the neglect of the female child in Italian screen studies.

My most recent book project has concerned the popularity of prostitute figures in post-war Italian cinema. After writing a series of papers and articles on the topic, I was awarded AHRC research leave to develop a monograph project in which I tracked the function of these figures in different moments and genres of Italian cinema between 1940 and 1965, with a particular focus on theories of spectatorship and the historical context. I show how these women are used as a keystone in the construction of a variety of discourses about gender, partly because of the background historical debate about the closure of the state-approved brothel in Italy in 1958.

In association with this project I also organized a conference in 2010 on the representation of prostitution, with Kate Taylor-Jones from the University of Sheffield, and in conjunction with Exeter's Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Sexuality and Gender in Europe. We are now developing a co-edited collection based on that conference for publication with Palgrave in 2016.

I have also traced the convergence of two of my research interests, prostitution and postfeminism, in the figure of the Italian television showgirl. In a recent article for Italian Studies I trace and challenge her construction in contemporary Italian culture as a symptom of the Italian political crisis.