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From Mařka the Bricklayer to Black and White Sylva: Images of women in Czech visual culture and the Eastern European visual paradox

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This article addresses the gender paradox of Eastern European visual culture, in which images of women often cannot be simply analysed using the standard theoretical and methodological toolbox of gender analysis developed in the ‘West’ since the 1970s. Juxtaposing two periods of Czech cinema and visual culture, namely the politically heavily controlled 1950s and the loosened-up thaw years of the late 1960s, a paradoxical situation emerges – the times with most political control and censorship produced the most active images of women, while the ‘free’ 1960s reverted to stereotypical and exploitative portrayals. This article tries to suggest possible ways of tackling this paradox and to offer viable approaches for reading the representations of women in their political and cultural context.
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Keywords: Czech visual culture; Czechoslovak New Wave; Eastern European cinema; Feminism; Images of women; Socialist realism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Charles University

Publication date: July 26, 2011

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