Gemma Edney

Department: English and Film Studies
Discipline: Film Studies

Project Summary

My PhD project examines the representation of girlhood in contemporary French films, asking how the sensations and feelings of girlhood adolescence can be heard, as well as seen, on film. Through an examination of music usage in a range of contemporary French girlhood narratives, my thesis argues that music can allow an additional means of communication with the spectator, and can open avenues of identification between characters and audience members. 

Through a combination of cultural, musicological, and filmic analysis, my thesis aims to answer the following broad questions:

  • How do these films use music? What kinds of music are included and what artists are featured? What trends can be seen across these films, and how might this be "different" from other films?
  • How does this music then affect us, as spectators? How might the music help us understand the characters, or even help to express these characters’ personalities/voices? How might the music help evoke “girl” as a concept, as well as interact with the representation of the real “girls” on screen?

Through the answering of these questions, my thesis aims to serve a double purpose: firstly, to provide an overview of the use of music in these films, identifying the trends and general features of music in contemporary French girlhood film; and secondly, to use detailed analysis to explore how music affects spectator subjectivity and interacts with the representation of girlhood, thus providing new methods of considering contemporary adolescence on screen.

Supervisory Team

Dr Fiona Handyside

Dr Helen Hanson

Wider Research Interests

Although my current interests lie predominantly in the fields of film sound studies, and girlhood studies, I am also interested in a range of other, sometimes overlapping, areas within film studies, including:

  • Film affect theory, particularly as relates to film music and its ability to evoke visceral responses in the spectator.
  • Postfeminist filmmaking, particularly the evolution of girl and adolescent characters.
  • Teen film
  • Visual digital cultures, including the creation and dissemination of online, open-access visual content and the creation of digital communities around visual material.
  • The aesthetics of silent film, particularly in early local film.