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Laurier professor nominated for Edgar Allan Poe Award
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Wilfrid Laurier University’s Philippa Gates, associate professor of Film Studies, has been nominated for a 2012 Edgar Award for her book Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film (SUNY Press).
The book, published in April 2011, is an extensive study of more than three hundred films about the female detective. Gates explores this figure through her many incarnations of Hollywood cinema – from the “girl reporter” of the 1930s to the federal agents of the 2000s – using theories of gender, genre and stardom.
While the popular assumption is that images of women have become increasingly positive over the years, Gates argues that the most progressive and feminist models of the female detective exist in Hollywood’s more peripheral films, such as the low-budget “B” movies of the early 20th century.
“I think something more interesting was happening in the 30s and 40s than we give the 30s and 40s credit for,” said Gates. “We tend to think that feminism was born in the 70s, and while I don’t know how many of these early films are 'feminist,' there’s a sense that some of these women are proto-feminist models – they represent the possibility that women could really achieve anything they wanted.”
The highly prestigious Edgar Awards are presented each year by The Mystery Writers of America. Named after mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe, the Edgar Awards honour the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film and theatre.
Detecting Women was nominated in the category of Best Critical Biographical. The awards ceremony will take place in New York on April 26, 2012.