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Assignment Questions

Different Perspectives Regarding the Use of Force

Part One: read “The Use of Force” by William Carlos Williams (See attached)
Part two: reconsider and reread “The Use of Force” to prove/interrogate Laura Mulvey’s theory
of the patriarchal gaze.
Reconsider the psychoanalytic theory derived from Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan that Laura Mulvey uses to support her theory of the gaze in the 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Mulvey argues that meaning is defined largely by men who associate their power to name, define, and control reality with their masculinity. Your essay should therefore reveal an awareness of the ways in which the story reflects the language of patriarchy and encodes the ideology that all patriarchy is founded on. Laura Mulvey believes the one who looks has the power. Since Mulvey’s theory is essentially a “film theory,” you must adapt its premises of a “masculine” subject position — WOMAN AS IMAGE, MAN AS BEARER OF THE LOOK ??” and apply it to the narrative structure of the story. The challenge for you is to find the connection between this simple story of a little girl’s interaction with her doctor and Mulvey’s gender politics. Mulvey identifies two processes that transform “the look” into a sexual gaze: voyeurism and fetishistic scopophilia. Use these not only as a feminine (or feminist) ‘way of looking’, but also as a feminine/feminist way of reading and analyzing “The Use of Force.” Rather than simply assuming that there is only one ‘truth’ (your initial reading) proceed from a woman’s point of view and throughout your essay, determine how this new identifying point affects your analysis.
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