Gaylyn Studlar

Gaylyn Studlar

​Program Director of Film and Media Studies
David May Distinguished Professor in the Humanities
research interests:
  • Feminist Film Theory
  • Genre Studies
  • Hollywood Cinema
  • Orientalism
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    • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
    • CB 1174
    • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
    • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899
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    Gaylyn Studlar’s research interests include feminist film theory and history, Hollywood cinema, genre studies, Orientalism, and the relationship between film and the other arts. 

    Studlar joined the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis in 2009, after being on the faculty of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for thirteen years and as a part of the faculty of Emory University for eight. At the University of Michigan she was the Rudolf Arnheim Collegiate Professor of Film Studies and served as director of the Program in Film and Media Studies for ten years. During that time, oversaw the program’s development into the Dept. of Screen Arts and Cultures and the marked expansion of its faculty and curricular offerings.

    In 1996, she received an Excellence in Education Award from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and in 1997, a Provost’s Office Grant to attend the Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration. Professor Studlar’s PhD is from the University of Southern California in cinema studies, where she also received a Master of Music in cello performance. Her research interests include feminist film theory and history, Hollywood cinema, genre studies, Orientalism, and the relationship between film and the other arts. She is the author of This Mad Masquerade: Stardom and Masculinity in the Jazz Age and In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic.  Her most recent books are Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema, published by the University of California Press in 2013, and Have Gun Will Travel, published by Wayne State University Press in May 2015. She has co-edited four anthologies: John Ford Made Westerns, Visions of the East; Reflections in a Male Eye: John Huston and the American Experience; and Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster. Studlar's research has been translated into French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Arabic.

    Dr. Studlar is working on a book to be called "Erotic Labor: Sex, Class, and Stardom in Pre-Code Hollywood."  She has articles forthcoming on celebrity and aesthetics, on authenticity and female stardom, on women in post-World War II Westerns, and on Clara Bow as a "white trash" celebrity in the age of eugenics.  At WashU, Professor Studlar has taught courses such as Film Theory, Women & Film, Sexual Politics in Film Noir, British Cinema, Stardom, and Film Historiography, among others.

    Selected Publications

    Have Gun Will Travel, Wayne State University Press, 2015.

    Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema, University of California Press, 2013.

    This Mad Masquerade: Stardom and Masculinity in the Jazz Age, Columbia University Press, 1996.

    In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic, Columbia University Press (paperback 1992), University of Illinois Press (1988)

    John Ford Made Westerns, Indiana University Press, 2001.

    Visions of the East, Rutgers University Press, 1997.

    Reflections in a Male Eye: John Huston and the American Experience, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993.

    Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster, Rutgers University Press, 1999.

    Have Gun – Will Travel

    Have Gun – Will Travel

    One of the most successful series of its time, Have Gun—Will Travel became a cultural phenomenon in the late 1950s and made its star, Richard Boone, a nationwide celebrity. The series offered viewers an unusual hero in the mysterious, Shakespeare-spouting gunfighter known only as "Paladin" and garnered a loyal fan base, including a large female following. In Have Gun—Will Travel, film scholar Gaylyn Studlar draws on a remarkably wide range of episodes from the series’ six seasons to show its sophisticated experimentation with many established conventions of the Western.

    Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema

    Precocious Charms: Stars Performing Girlhood in Classical Hollywood Cinema

    In Precocious Charms, Gaylyn Studlar examines how Hollywood presented female stars as young girls or girls on the verge of becoming women. Child stars are part of this study but so too are adult actresses who created motion picture masquerades of youthfulness. Studlar details how Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Jones, and Audrey Hepburn performed girlhood in their films. She charts the multifaceted processes that linked their juvenated star personas to a wide variety of cultural influences, ranging from Victorian sentimental art to New Look fashion, from nineteenth-century children’s literature to post-World War II sexology, and from grand opera to 1930s radio comedy. By moving beyond the general category of “woman,” Precocious Charms leads to a new understanding of the complex pleasures Hollywood created for its audience during the half century when film stars were a major influence on America’s cultural imagination.

    John Ford Made Westerns

    John Ford Made Westerns

    In John Ford Made Westerns, nine major essays by prominent scholars of Hollywood film situate the sound-era Westerns of John Ford within contemporary critical contexts and regard them from fresh perspectives. These range from examining Ford’s relation to other art forms (most notably literature, painting, and music) to exploring the development of the director’s reputation as a director of Westerns. While giving attention to film style and structure, the volume also treats the ways in which these much-loved films engage with notions of masculinity and gender roles, capitalism and community, as well as racial, sexual, and national identity.

    Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster

    Titanic: Anatomy of a Blockbuster

    In 1997, James Cameron’s Titanic, the most expensive and technologically advanced movie ever made, hit theaters. In 13 weeks, it became the highest-grossing film in North America, and shortly thereafter, the first motion picture to earn a billion dollars worldwide.

    The cultural studies and film scholars who have contributed 13 essays to this collection ask the key question—Why? What made Titanic such a popular movie? Why has this film become a cultural and film phenomenon? What makes it so fascinating to the film-going public?

    Visions of the East: Orientalism in Film

    Visions of the East: Orientalism in Film

    The Sheik. Pépé le Moko. Casablanca. Aladdin. Some of the most popular and frequently discussed titles in movie history are imbued with orientalism, the politically-charged way in which western artists have represented gender, race, and ethnicity in the cultures of North Africa and Asia. This is the first anthology to address and highlight orientalism in film from pre-cinema fascinations with Egyptian culture through the "Whole New World" of Aladdin. Eleven illuminating and well-illustrated essays utilize the insights of interdisciplinary cultural studies, psychoanalysis, feminism, and genre criticism.

    This Mad Masquerade: Stardom and Masculinity in the Jazz Age

    This Mad Masquerade: Stardom and Masculinity in the Jazz Age

    Studlar looks at four major Hollywood male stars of the silent era – Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore, and Lon Chaney – to illuminate the cultural, ideological, and historical implications of these stars in relation to contemporary debates over changing sexual and social norms.

    Reflections in a Male Eye

    Reflections in a Male Eye

    In a career that spanned six decades, the legendary John Huston directed 38 films, including The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The African Queen, Prizzi's Honor, and The Dead, as well as three documentaries on the experience of World War II combat and its aftereffects.

    Despite his achievements, Huston's work has often been spurned by movie critics and film scholars. This anthology, the first in-depth study of Huston's films since his death in 1987, challenges the conventional wisdom through a vigorous reassessment of the director's work. Bringing together recent essays, classic pieces by Andrew Sarris and James Agee, as well as two Huston short stories and an interview with the filmmaker, Reflections in a Male Eye explores the ideology of Huston's films, their social and political backdrop, and his vision of the American male.

    In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic

    In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic

    In a major revision of feminist-psychoanalytic theories of film pleasure and sexual difference, Studlar's close textual analysis of the six Paramount films directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich probes the source of their visual and psychological complexity.