Women & Film (1972-75): A History of the First Feminist Film Magazine

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

211 Downloads (Pure)


This thesis provides a cultural and critical history of Women & Film, the first ever feminist film magazine, published in California between 1972 and 1975. Scholarly accounts of the development of feminist film criticism often acknowledge its pioneering status; yet the magazine’s own history remains largely unwritten. Drawing on recent interviews conducted by myself, as well as close readings and analysis of the magazine and extensive archival research, this thesis seeks to trace the magazine’s inception, evolution and demise. The result is a reassessment of its place within feminist film studies, positing it as a unique, foundational text in feminist film criticism and theory. Taking inspiration from prior scholarly explorations of periodicals of the 20th century, I begin with an exploration of the historical moment that gave rise to Women & Film and examine how the counterculture, radical left politics and the women’s liberation movement shaped its initial direction and outlook. Its pages provided the earliest exclusive forum for the development of feminist film criticism and theory in print. I conduct close readings of selected articles, including the ‘images of women’ criticism which the magazine is primarily known for, an association which has contributed to its scholarly neglect. However, Women & Film was also an important site for the development of film criticism informed by semiotic theory. My inquiry considers such writing, but also the way in which these methodological and theoretical debates played out within the magazine’s human history, specifically the disputes that brought about the departure of a group of women who would go on to found the journal Camera Obscura (1976-present). Lastly, I assess the important contribution made by the magazine to women’s film history through the publication of some of the earliest historical work on women directors of the past.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Merck, Mandy, Supervisor
Award date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • Clarissa Jacob
  • Feminist Film Criticism
  • women & film
  • feminist film history
  • camera obscura
  • feminist film
  • Women's writing

Cite this