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Barbara Creed (born 1943) is a Professor of Cinema Studies in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne known for her cultural criticism. Creed is a graduate of Monash University and LaTrobe University where she completed doctoral research using psychoanalysis and feminist theory to understand certain practises of horror films.
As a whole, Creed's works focus on the horror genre and the impact of patriarchal ideologies upon the genre. Creed focuses on Freudian psychoanalysis and Julia Kristeva's works in semiotics. Creed's work with psychoanalysis validates its usefulness in the feminist film theory field.
In The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Creed examines women in horror films as put in the role of victim and how several kinds of "mothers" are created in the genre. Using Julia Kristeva's notion of the abject, Creed examines horror films as crossing the boundaries created abjecting parts of self like bodily fluids or things that create a loss of boundaries. The viewer momentarily enjoys the loss of these boundaries because the film ultimately returns to them when the female victim is triumphant over her antagonist. Creed uses this theory to examine how female figures are constructed in horror films to create categories of monstrous females.
Types of Monstrous Mothers
- Archaic Mother in Alien (1979).
- Possessed Monster in The Exorcist (1973).
- Monstrous Womb in The Brood (1979).
- Vampire in The Hunger (1983).
- Witch in Carrie (1976).
- Femme Castratrice in I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and Sisters (1973).
- Castrating Mother in Psycho (1960).
Films, such as The Matrix (1999), introduce the concept "jacking-in," which Creed explains in Media Matrix: Sexing the New Reality as a further ability to use technology to disassociate from reality. This new virtual reality used in film allows another way to examine sex. Here, Creed further examines the notion of the abject in the context of modern media and its portrayal of sex. Media Matrix expands from her previous work in The Monstrous-Feminine. She notes that it is the viewer who constructs their own interpretations and produces meaning of what they view.
Freud's discussion of the uncanny states that peculiarity and horror go together. In Phallic Panic: FIlm, Horror and the Primal Uncanny, Creed examines this notion to examine the purpose of the monster and gender in relation to its image. Creed argues that male monsters are ultimately explorations of the debt we have to females, or mothers in particular.
In Darwin's Screens: Evolutionary Aesthetics, Time and Sexual Display in the Cinema, Creed examines the uncanny again through Darwin's works with sexual selection and origins. Creed uses films that were influenced by Darwin in the nineteenth century to analyze film techniques related to Darwin's works.
Awards and Committees
In 2013, Barbara Creed founded the Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network at the University of Melbourne.
In 2006 Creed was elected to The Australian Academy of the Humanities.
- Grant, Barry Keith (1996). The Dread of Difference: Gender and the Horror Film. Austin: University of Texas Press.
- Chaudhuri, Shohini (2006). Feminist Film Theorists. London and New York: Routledge.
- Thornham, Sue (1999). Feminist FIlm Theory: A Reader. New York University Press.
- Creed, Barbara (1993). The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge.
- Creed, Barbara (2003). Media Matrix: Sexing the New Reality. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
- Creed, Barbara (2005). Phallic Panic: Film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
- Creed, Barbara (2009). Darwin's Screens: Evolutionary Aesthetics, Time and Sexual Display in the Cinema. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
- The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (London and New York: Routledge, 1993)
- Media Matrix: Sexing the New Reality (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2003)
- Pandora’s Box: Essays in Film Theory, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2004)
- Phallic Panic: Film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2005)
- Darwin's Screens: Evolutionary Aesthetics, Time and Sexual Display in the Cinema (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2009)
- Homosexuality - a Film for Discussion (1975)
- Barbara Creed's Staff Page at the University of Melbourne.
- Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network (HRAE)