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Rebel Citizenship and the Cunning of the Liberal Imaginary in Thelma & Louise

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Through a reading of the critical reception of Thelma & Louise, this essay argues that contemporary feminist criticism would benefit by taking into account its often tacit presupposition of a liberal model of citizenship. Critics praise the film for challenging the normative masculinity of film genres or for subverting the phallocentrism of the symbolic order, failing to note that the women's gender rebellion serves to support liberal principles. Yet the variants of feminist theory the film supposedly stages understand these principles as alibis for phallocentrism. Such analyses of the film thus contradict the premises on which their authorizing theories depend.

Keywords: Citizenship; Feminism; Film; Friendship; Liberalism

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2008


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