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Honorary degree citation - Laura Mulvey

By: Johanne Sloan, June 2008

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Laura Mulvey, cultural theorist, fearless scholar, filmmaker and leader in the global world of ideas.

In 1975, Laura Mulvey wrote a powerful essay called Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema that is still resonating around the world more than three decades later. This essay continues to provide the frame of reference for raging debate, and constantly pops up on the World Wide Web as the enduring benchmark for discussion of its subject.

Cet essai marquant représente une des contributions majeures que Laura Mulvey a apportées à la réflexion contemporaine sur les médias et le cinéma en tant que théoricienne pionnière des études cinématographiques féministes, auteure et cinéaste.

Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema used psychoanalysis to assess a number of important Hollywood films, arguing that the “gaze” in mainstream films is always male in construction, and operates through two primary processes intandem: narcissistic identification with male characters and voyeuristic objectification of female characters.

Ms. Mulvey is a celebrated scholar who has stimulated debate in the academy and the art world for more than 30 years. She has also had the courage and the rigour to revisit her own ideas critically. She is widely admired and recognized around the world, including in her home country, where she was named to the British Academy in 2000. She is currently Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of London's Birkbeck College.

Mme Mulvey a profondément influencé notre regard sur l’art, sur le cinéma et sur l’identité sexuelle et nationale. Sa démarche interdisciplinaire et multidisciplinaire, très avant-gardiste à l'époque, nous a ouvert de nouvelles perspectives. Nous lui sommes toutes et tous redevables de ce courant de pensée émancipateur qu'elle a déclenché il y a plus de trente ans.

Last year, Cambridge University’s Media Research Group held a day-long symposium on the ongoing impact of Dr. Mulvey’s work, especially of her 1975 essay. She has also produced an extensive body of work in film and in criticism, as well as in art history.

Here at Concordia, the Department of Art History has drawn extensively on her work and its intriguing possibilities, ultimately deciding to become a partner in creating a new Joint Major in Art History and Film.

In conferring this honourary doctorate today, we are sending a powerful signal to our students and to the world that Concordia University cherishes a rigorous commitment to the world of ideas. For her leadership and her sustained theoretical contribution across so many disciplines, we honour her today.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you Laura Mulvey, so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.




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