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Birkbeck academics included in list of greatest feminist thinkers

Professors Mulvey and Warner are the only two living British women included in book

Professor Laura Mulvey (pictured) and Professor Dame Marina Warner CBE from Birkbeck’s School of Arts are the only two living British women to be included in a book entitled Fifty-one Key Feminist Thinkers. Published by Routledge, the book includes feminist thinkers, historical and contemporary. Professors Mulvey and Warner are included in the list, alongside distinguished figures such as Sappho, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mulvey is Professor of Film and Media studies at Birkbeck and a Fellow of the British Academy. In her 1973 essay, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, Mulvey coined the phrase ‘the male gaze’ to describe the way in which film places the spectator in the position of the male, heterosexual subject position. Her work was the first to bring a feminist perspective to the psychoanalytical approach to film theory. She has also written and directed a number of avant-garde films, exploring feminist issues. These include Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974), Riddles of the Sphinx (1977), AMY! (1980), and Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1982). 

Professor Dame Warner is Chair in English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck. Professor Warner’s most celebrated works include her non-fiction work Alone of all her sex: the myth and cult of the Virgin Mary (1976) and her novel The lost father, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1988. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005, and was made a CBE for services to literature in 2008. In 2015 she chaired the Man Booker International judging panel, and was herself awarded the prestigious Holberg Prize. On joining Birkbeck two years ago, Warner, said: “Ever since I first came to London in the 1960s, I have admired Birkbeck, its principles, aims and ideals. Many of my mentors and friends have taught at Birkbeck, including the historian Eric Hobsbawm. I have been a feminist all my life and the flexibility of evening teaching makes a huge difference to women coming back to education. There is also a huge attraction to working in Bloomsbury as it is saturated with literary and political history.”

Professor Hilary Fraser, Executive Dean of the School of Arts said: “We are extremely proud and honoured to have two such extraordinary women as Laura and Marina as colleagues and teachers at Birkbeck. It is no accident that they and other distinguished feminist public intellectuals, such as our President, Dame Joan Bakewell, and Professors Joanna Bourke and Jacqueline Rose, choose to work here. The work they do speaks to the enlightened ethos and radical tradition that defines us."

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