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Female fantasy and postfeminist politics in Nora Ephron's screenplays

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The article examines and re-evaluates Nora Ephron's screenplays; it argues that Ephron's popularity with female viewers, and her association with the derided category of 'chick-flicks', has caused critics to overlook her important contribution to female screenwriting in the last twenty years. Since the late 1980s, Ephron has created a number of highly successful mainstream, popular screenplays that skilfully articulate and express the conflicting pressures experienced by young women, while still offering a positive view of 'feminine' culture. Through an analysis of key features of Ephron's romantic comedies - such as the characteristics of the Ephron heroine, the use of parallel narrative and the symbolic significance of mother/daughter relationships, the article argues that Ephron's narratives offset specific negative cultural stereotypes of single and professional women from the 1990s and noughties through a sympathetic, feminist-influenced approach to contemporary gender roles, expectations and courtship rituals. Ephron's screenplays offer an uplifting vision of feminine culture and attributes in which patriarchal attitudes are countered and defeated by the optimism, resourcefulness and integrity of the female heroine.
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Keywords: feminine culture; feminism and post-feminism; gender stereotypes; parallel narrative; romantic comedy; the heroine

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of East London

Publication date: 2012-02-09

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  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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