Technology and femininity in Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine

Shingler, Katherine (2019) Technology and femininity in Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine. Modernist Cultures, 14 (2). ISSN 1753-8629

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This article examines the intersection of technology and femininity in Marcel L’Herbier’s 1924 silent film L’Inhumaine, focusing on the film’s articulation of a figure of machine-woman who may be read as alternately inhuman and posthuman. The article draws on previous scholarship by Maureen Shanahan and others who have read the film through the lens of queer theory, but contends that any queer potentiality is effectively shut down at the end of the film. Offering a new reading of the mysterious machine that is used to reanimate and transform the heroine, I argue that the vision of a posthuman, technologically-mediated woman that emerges at the end of the film is far from emancipatory, and that despite its questioning of normative femininity, L’Inhumaine ultimately advances a conservative gender politics that chimes with a broad social and cultural retour à l’ordre in 1920s France.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Author’s Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Edinburgh University Press in Modernist Cultures. The Version of Record is available online at:
Keywords: machine-woman, posthuman, queer theory, silent film, technology of orgasm
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Shingler, Katherine
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2018 12:08
Last Modified: 24 May 2019 10:17

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