The draft French seminar series | Media Matriarchs: Sarah Bernhardt, Réjane and Mistinguett
draft: a seminar series on research in progress in French and Francophone Studies in Australia
Presented by the Department of French and Francophone Studies
Media Matriarchs: Sarah Bernhardt, Réjane and Mistinguett
Dr Victoria Duckett (Deakin University, Melbourne)
More than a century after the French actresses Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), Réjane (Gabrielle Charlotte Réju, 1856-1920) and Mistinguett (Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois, 1875-1956) consolidated their international fame on film, attention is newly focusing on their contributions to the silent film industry. These actresses were famous theatrical performers who were also businesswomen and entrepreneurs, growing mass audiences for the cinema through a pioneering engagement with film. Although Bernhardt and Mistinguett have been recently featured in specialized European film festivals, there is still little knowledge about the astonishing accomplishments of these women. My research explores the career trajectories of Bernhardt, Réjane and Mistinguett, revealing the uniqueness, power, and inextinguishable talent that they collectively exhibit. Focusing on their movement east, from Paris into England, and their subsequent appearance on stage and screen before audiences in North America, I consider their border crossings across geographical space, cultural spheres, as well as through the changing media landscapes of their time. As I demonstrate, in England and North America this trio were transnational stars, spearheading the changing relationships between the French stage, emerging film industries, and Anglo-American audiences abroad. While I argue that the Parisian actress of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century brings international renown to French film, my overarching contention is that the actress was a powerful pioneer whose achievement has today been ‘lost in plain sight’.
About the speaker
Dr Victoria Duckett is Senior Lecturer is Screen at Deakin University, Melbourne. She is author of the award winning book, Seeing Sarah Bernhardt: Performance and Silent Film (Illinois, 2016), and co-editor of the collection Researching Women in Silent Cinema: New Findings and Perspectives (University of Bologna, 2013). Victoria is a member of Women and Film History International, on the founding editorial board of the journal Feminist Media Histories, (University of California Press) and on the editorial board of Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film (Sage). She is currently completing a book exploring the relationship between the late 19th-century stage actress in France and the emergence of global film industries (University of California Press, 2022).
For more information, contact: Dr Nathalie Ségeral – email@example.com
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