Volume IV, Number 2, Fall 2008


"Cinema and Ideology in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison" by Samy Azouz

Samy Azouz is adjunct professor at the Department of English, University of Le Havre, France, and member of CRIDAF Laboratory, Paris 13. E-mail:

In America, Hollywood as a cinematic apparatus, is implicated in the diffraction of a fallacious ideology, which intends to disseminate a disturbing paradigm of whiteness/beauty. In Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye, cinema is a machine that targets the minds and the psyches of her female characters. It can be said that the eye in the title comprises a multiple pun: it is at once the eye that Pecola Breedlove covets most, the eye of a white deity, the eye of a surrogate camera, and the “bluest I” that narrates Pecola’s victimization, Claudia Mac Teer. Films that Pauline Breedlove, Maureen Peal, and her mother watch regularly are the living expression of a pervasive ideology. Firstly, I will report the prejudice done to these characters and especially Pauline as a spectatorial subject that seems to suffer most. The emphasis will be on the lack coupled with the spectatorial desire, and on the centrality of identification for these women characters. Secondly, I will show how the screen becomes a mirror in a Lacanian sense. Thirdly, I will focus on the intersection of cinematic production and ideology as an ingredient of film making following the critique-of-ideology approach.

Morrison lambastes the American society that daily practises the modelling of individuals through the institution of the family, the educational establishment, and the mass media culture. In The Bluest Eye, Pauline’s daughter Pecola, Pauline Breedlove and Maureen Peal, absorb greedily and uncritically the norms and the mythic version of whiteness, beauty, and harmony screened by the cinema. Each of them is driven by her own lack with the nuances attached to the object of their desire. Each reacts in accord with her perceived physical unpleasantness. Their common plight is their funkiness; their very blackness which is equated with ugliness and shame. Because of the handicap that affects her leg, Pauline absorbs images of the flawless body. Maureen Peal’s aspiration for white skin and elegance attests to her desire to climb in the ladder of beauty. In his book Concepts in Film Theory, Dudley Andrew argues that “cinema, as cultural institution, is by definition a symbolic system, mediating the spectator and the world in countless exchangeable ways” (150). This mediation between the real universe and the spectator immediately poses the notion of watching and gazing. Watching films produced by Hollywood turns out to be an effective tool in conditioning these characters. In this context, Andrew writes that “cinema thereby takes its place in our visual life, a place of perception not of language,” adding, “admittedly, of course, language is intimately involved in perception, especially in such modelling perceptual activities as the cinema” (33). In cinema and before the screen, Pauline, the hapless mother, discovers not only romance and platonic love, but also the physical beauty and bodily elegance that Morrison deems most destructive of her characters’ self-esteem. “Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another-physical beauty,” writes Morrison, “Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought” (The Bluest Eye 95). Having been indoctrinated inside the cinema, Pauline feels powerless to gaze at a human complexion made of flesh and bone without evaluating or according it a category pertaining to the scale of charming beauty. Because she walks with a limp and hobbles, Pauline cooptates certain filmic images that portray the perfect human body where handicap and deformity are eradicated once and forever. Her physical mutilation propels her to view the human body at its higher degree of perfection. Morrison provides further details:

She was never able, after her education in the movies, to look at a face and not assign it some category in the scale of absolute beauty, […]. There the flawed became whole, the blind sighted, and the lame and halt threw away their crutches. There death was dead, and people made every gesture in a cloud of music (ibid., 95).

We are in the realm of the imaginary and the fantastic. This passage illustrates the mechanism of sustained illusion that characterizes Hollywood. Pauline fully internalizes the pictures coming from the big screen. This fantastic dimension of the cinema provides Pauline with feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and a taste of physical prowess. The fantastic is that sweet fancy of human flawlessness, the whim of personal wholeness, and the imaginings of individual plenitude and completeness. In this regard, Andrew comments:

The fantastic makes us at home the idea that our lives are crossed by possibilities we seldom attend to. It makes us at once anxious and grateful […]. After all, the fantastic shows us that the world we live in is already a destined universe, one we can enjoy but one we must fear. The film system, at the urgings of ideology, will continually develop new techniques to startle us with the real and the more than real […]. As a genre the fantastic is thus the crossing point of a technology, an industry a way of making films, an audience desire, a societal need. Ideology makes these quite distinct structures and forces cohere […]. (Concepts 114-5)

Cinema thus becomes a gigantic instrument for the dissemination of ideology. Pauline is the assiduous disciple who willingly impregnates herself with an exacerbated idealism epitomized in the cogent paradigm of whiteness/beauty. To escape from her physical misery and to blot out her misfortune from her memory, Pauline chooses to be the faithful customer of commodified pictures.

Going to cinema is an established social habit amongst Americans to such an extent that Andrew ponders over the fact and considers it as a “social institution” (150), existent and very influential. Pauline is the living example that indicates that women form the majority of the public fascinated with Hollywood. Melvyn Stokes in Female Audiences contends that “whether women really formed a considerable majority of the cinema audience of the 1920s and 1930s, however, may actually be of less importance than the fact that Hollywood itself assumed that […] they were its primary market” (43). Sex, arguably, is not spared from the logic of commodity or official cultural policies. The female sex, apparently, is interpenetrated by market values. Women in general and black women in particular are deliberately targeted. Black women, in reality, are lured to consume and impersonate all that is white. To look for happiness, fetch pleasure, and embrace luxury, Pauline goes to cinema and engulfs everything the screen projects. It transpires that Pauline is resolute to expose herself to some visual wonders. In reality, Pauline feels a great lack that circumscribes her being and bifurcates her personality. Cinema, so to speak, becomes a means of substitution and gratification. To ward off her frustration and exorcize her funkiness, which is her very blackness, Pauline goes every time to cinema and even arrives at an early hour. For her, this is the most suitable locale where she can find solace. There, she redeems her physical infirmity, masks her abjection, restores her bodily ability, and atones for her blackness. In short, cinema becomes the ideal retreat where she can find compensation and consolation. The silver screen is, in this juncture, the place where to release the tensions of the mind and ease the pressure of the psyche. The screen induces pleasure and provokes happiness. “The onliest time I be happy seem like was when I was in the picture show […],” writes Morrison, “Them pictures gave me a lot of pleasure […]” (The Bluest Eye 95).

Pauline seems to compensate for her great lack by eliciting a great desire. In a Freudian sense, it is again the game of lack and desire. Being the personification of absence because of her blackness, Pauline becomes sheer lack and bare raw desire. Gurleen Grewal argues that “If Irigaray’s feminine subject (a universal feminine subject) is defined as lack, as absence, then the black woman is doubly lacking, for she must simulate or feign her femininity as she dissimulates or conceals her blackness” (Circles of Sorrow 26). Her desire (of nonblackness) is to desire the loveliness and pleasantness of white women, who are the representatives of Western standards of beauty. Madhu Dubey contends that “Each expression of black feminine desire, whether Pecola’s longing for blue eyes, Frieda’s love of Shirley Temple, Claudia’s hatred of white dolls, Maureen’s adoration of Betty Grable, or Pauline’s of Jean Harlow, takes the white woman as its objects” (Black Women Novelists 39-40). And ultimately desire becomes the desire of what white Americans desire; a thing beyond Pauline’s psychic reach. Pauline really desires the impossible; nonblackness or the erasure of her skin colour. The drunkenness of her husband Cholly, her lost love for him, the abjection of her daughter Pecola, the mischievousness of her son Sammy, and the mockery of others, all summarize the considerable lack which haunts her mind and body. To view life from another angle, appropriate the beauty of white women shown in the movies, sense the comfort and the cosiness of white households, all of these wishes encapsulate the desire that overwhelms the intellect of Pauline. As a maid in the Fichers’ house, Pauline explores the cosy rooms and the comfortable furniture where the Fichers live. Her presence among the Fichers makes her oblivious of her dirty storefront. In this context, cinema represents a haven, a refuge. There, Pauline, nicknamed Polly by the Fichers, finds the relief she keeps on looking for but never possesses. There, the verbal spell and the magic of words have a tremendous leverage on Pauline. In this respect, Andrew considers films “as mechanisms of desire” (143), that imply a relationship “of two systems, that of the psyche and that of the cinema” (Concepts 135). Cinema, for Pauline, is a means to assuage her frustration, alleviate the brutality of her social condition, and ensure a minimum of imaginary self-satisfaction. Based on the notion of the mirror developed by Lacan and the hypothesis contrived by Norman Holland that “like attracts like” (122), Pauline retrieves a consummate image of herself. This image, it must be noted, is one shown by a camera considered as a surrogate. In this light, Jean-Louis Baudry in “Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus” shares the idea that cinema is a locus “where we identify not only with the characters, but also with the camera as the surrogate for our desire for order, organization, and unity” (47). Pauline’s experience with the screen as well as with the camera becomes one of seduction. In exposing herself to some visual marvels, Pauline manifests the irresistible allure exercised by filmic images of white beauty. Jean Baudrillard highlights that the moment of seduction, “ ‘I’ll be your mirror’ does not signify ‘I’ll be your reflection’ but ‘I’ll be your deception’” (Seduction 69). Pauline actually deceives herself by being an object of seduction. When she relocates to another parallel reality, she becomes the victim of illusion and untruth. She ultimately develops a certain dependency on the screen transformed into a mirror. As an addicted cinemagoer, she is the earliest spectator even before the film starts up and the latest after the lights are off. In fact, Pauline forms a clientele in the marketplace of commodified images and pictures. She, seemingly enough, strives to light up the sombre side of her peripheral being. From one shot film to the other, Pauline searches for a device to suffuse herself with the excessive idealism propagated by the cinema, which Baudry considers as an apparatus of ideology. This apparatus forces a particular behaviour on the spectators. In this sense, Andrew comments:

Desiring to possess the film, we are confined merely to viewing it. Consequently, the successful film can never ultimately satisfy us; rather, it rewards our passion to see by offering us still more to see until we are thrown beyond the bounds of its narrative space and out in the queue waiting for the next film to light up on the screen, to light up the caverns of our psyches. (Concepts 148)

The impregnation process and the absorption of images and models are established. In truth, Pauline is introduced to what Linden Peach calls a cinematographic version of the Dick and Jane mythos. Pauline’s dissatisfaction and recurrent disappointment leads to her subsequent internalizing of white pseudo norms and icons. Pauline’s predicament is that these norms do not make room for her shattered being and dichotomous existence. Her splintering from reality is thus ineluctable and total. She is wedged between two completely disparate worlds. She is stranded in the void between beauty and ugliness, truth and illusion, loss and salvation. Eventually, she attempts mimicry. Obviously, Hollywood seems to condition as well as discipline Pauline. Even her haircut is dictated to her. Neither afro nor conk, which are purely black hairstyles that inspire black beauty, Pauline opts for a white hairstyle. Despite her endeavour to look like Harlow, Pauline fails to comply with the ideal image of her favourite star and correctly mimic her stylized haircut. In striving to set a perfect imitative pattern, Pauline achieves only an approximate value. Morrison provides further details: “I remember one time I went to see Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. I fixed my hair up like I’d seen hers on a magazine. A part on the side, with one little curl on my forehead. It looked just like her. Well almost just like […]” (The Bluest Eye 96).

Most likely the film is Red Dust, as most critics have gone to suggest, a film of Gable and Harlow that dates back to the 1930s. The juxtaposition of Pauline, the black woman who breaks her teeth with sweets, with the idyllic image of Harlow, leads us to safely infer the destructive aspect of such imitation, especially when Pauline strongly covets to look like her preferred star. “I was sitting back in my seat, and I taken a big bite of that candy, and it pulled a tooth right out of my mouth,” notes Morrison, “I could have cried. I had good teeth, not a rotten one in my head. I don’t believe I ever did get over that. There I was, five months pregnant, trying to look like Jean Harlow, and a front tooth gone” (ibid., 96). The simultaneous fall of Pauline’s teeth is a metaphor of the deleterious effect of imitation. It is worthwhile to note, once again, that Pauline names her daughter Pecola after watching the film Imitation of Life where the actress Fredi Washington plays the role of Peola. Indeed, these characters are really condemned to an “imitation of life.” They identify themselves with a lack, with what they have not, and with what they do not possess. They are propertyless and dispossessed. Much like Peola, who leaves her mother and quits home because she is black and abject, Pauline overstays in the Fichers’ house to avoid coming back early to her “dingy storefront.” She hence abandons her parental responsibility towards her children, just like Peola the prodigal daughter who disrespects her mother. Mothers and daughters are actually portrayed as irresponsible fugitives. Assiduously, Pauline attempts to assimilate and identify with the goddesses of Hollywood. The urge to identify is a real pleasure in which Pauline revels. Andrew emphasizes that identification with actors and actresses “is based on an identification with the process of viewing itself and ultimately with the camera which views” (Concepts 149). In his work The Fiction Film and Its Spectator, Christian Metz explicates:

As [sic] he identifies with himself as look, the spectator can do no other than identify with the camera too which has looked before him at what he is now looking at and whose stationing (=framing) determines the vanishing point. During the projection this camera is absent, but it has a representative consisting of another apparatus called precisely as “projector,” an apparatus the spectator has behind him, at the back of his head, that is, precisely where fantasy locates the “focus” of all vision. (99)

This imperious need to identify, for Pauline, becomes an extremely irresistible requirement. Identification appears to be a source of psychic healing and mental appeasement. In this regard, cinema becomes a means of therapy, or better still, an elixir to soften her dismal reality. Consequently, Pauline exposes herself to what Baudry terms a “psychic apparatus” to find solace and solve the sharp contradictions that traverse her existence. Pauline in reality suffers from an initial lack of being (manque à être). At last, she is seen to fall prey to a sort of trompe-l’oeil mechanism. She is placed within the spheres of what Robert Stam in his book Film Theory names “total alienation cinema” (137).

Morrison makes reference to a multitude of films. Imitation of life illustrates the dynamics that govern Morrison’s text. At their first encounter, Maureen Peal mentions the film and asks Pecola about her first name:

“I just moved here. My name is Maureen Peal. What’s yours?”
“Pecola.”
“Pecola? Wasn’t that the name of the girl in Imitation of life?”
“I don’t know. What is that?”
“The picture show, you know. Where this mulatto girl hates her mother ‘cause she is black and ugly but then cries at the funeral. It was real sad. Everybody cries in it. Claudette Colbert too.”
“Oh.” Pecola’s voice was no more than a sigh.
“Anyway, her name was Pecola too. She was so pretty. When it comes back, I’m going to see it again. My mother has seen it four times.” (The Bluest Eye 52)

Maureen, the mulatto girl, capsulizes the importance and leverage of this film. Because of her mother’s ugliness and ignominy, Peola leaves home to espouse white beauty and acquire manners of good-looking. But at her mother’s death, she returns home to attend her funeral ceremony. The stigma of her blackness propels Peola to quit her mother; but this same stigma shoves her to come back home to reunite with her dead mother and her heritage at large. In real life, the novel’s women characters are living the drama of being black and witnessing their thespian situation in the throes of white glamour and tantalizing beauties.

Maureen, the dream child, and her mother are not only dazzled by the actors and actresses who play in John Stahl’s movie but are also seduced and lured by what bell hooks labels in her Oppositional Gaze “the imaging practices of Hollywood cinema” (121). Filmic images depict the splendour and sumptuousness of everything that denotes whiteness and connotes prestige and supremacy. The meticulous shooting of films and the diffusion of such marvellous pictures and magnificent images, targets the perpetuation of white models and values. As a result, characters such as Pauline are systematically interpellated by Hollywood’s constant practice. In this same line of thinking, Andrew writes:

Here arises the analogy of the screen as a mirror which has propelled the advances of recent theory. Our fascination with particular characters and intrigues so much as a fascination with the image itself, based on a primal “mirror stage” in our psychic growth. Just as we were, when infants, confronted with the gloriously complete presentation of a spectacle on the screen. What that spectacle concerns is second to the power we exercise over its presence as a centered and continuous set of images. (Concepts 149)

In Imitation of Life, we witness an insistence on the relationship between mother and daughter. Because of the obsession to pass in white society, Peola gives up her mother, quits home, and longs for a wholesale metamorphosis of her skin. The story of Peola in this film parallels that of Pecola in The Bluest Eye. Peola in the film, and Pecola in the novel, both look for a drastic change of their skin colour; both beseech lactation to bleach their sun-burnt traits. Pauline, it transpires, is not the only character who is inculcated with the concept of beauty rendered a fetish by Hollywood. Maureen says that she will watch the film for the second time, and her mother for the fourth time. These characters seek an identification with their adored stars. Identification is that process by which these women characters constitute themselves by appropriating those physical characteristics and traits of beauty which characterize films’ stars. Given an original lack of being, a shattered existence, and a loss of an initial completeness, Morrison’s women characters identify with the gloriously dreamlike images of the screen. Maureen borrows her elegance from the world of the image, which guarantees her a feeling of power and an awareness of her worth. Maureen, the “high-yellow dream child with long brown hair,” impersonates white stars with rich displays of fashion: “patent-leather shoes with buckles,” “colored knee socks,” and a “brown velvet coat trimmed in white rabbit fur and a matching muff” (The Bluest Eye 47-48). She accordingly uses the skin colour to insult and hurls invectives at others declaring “I am cute! And you ugly black e mos. I am cute!” (ibid., 56). Maureen seems to use a tabooed language and forbidden words. The term ‘e mos’ underlines that she appropriates the black street urban vernacular to deride Pecola. Maureen manifests a strong desire to ensure her supremacy vis-à-vis her classmates, setting herself at the top of the beauty scale. Claudia and Frieda, sisters and neighbours of Pecola, are subjected to the same pictures but cultivate instead a hostility and a jealousy towards Maureen, whom they recognize as an embodiment of white beauty. Claudia’s implacable hatred for Maureen and her mutilation of dolls are two signs of her intellectual and psychological development regarding the concept of beauty. Claudia develops what Metz calls in Les Cahiers du Cinéma a “sadism of knowledge” (23). When Claudia realizes that the dolls’ beauty is no more than “mere metal roundness,” she “destroyed those dolls” (The Bluest Eye 14).

The mental development and the gradual progression towards maturity are two salient qualities which characterize Claudia, the daughter of the Mac Teer. In reality, Claudia values her blackness, a fact that opposes her to Pecola. “Guileless and without vanity, we were still in love with ourselves then. We felt comfortable in our skins,” says Claudia in soliloquy, “enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness” (ibid., 57). Nevertheless, she aims at identifying with Bojangles the famous black dancer who dances graciously with the white girl Shirley Temple. This signals, albeit partially, her half capitulation before the concept of beauty. In yielding partially to what the screen projects, she articulates her fascination with Jane Withers, her white Hollywood star. Claudia is actually a resistant reader/spectator not without weaknesses certainly. For her the pleasure of an image or a toy is transmuted into the sadistic pleasure of smashing the thing itself.

The constant reference to film stars does not stop here. When Mr Henry, the roomer of the Breedloves, greets Frieda and Claudia, he says: “Hello there. You must be Greta Garbo, and you must be Ginger Rogers.” (ibid., 10). Mr Henry also seems to cultivate the ideal image of a handsome and good-looking man. Very likely, he appears to conform to images emanating from the world of the silver screen. His reference to stars is an indication that he too is interpenetrated by filmic images. Far from praising or flattering them, Mr Henry is making fun in the presence of two little girls who giggle at his remark. This reveals not only the systematic inculcation of the minds of the children of the nation but also the perpetuation of a cultural ideal, presenting film stars as most admired by infants. It can be safe to say that there is a whole ruthless star system that governs the relationship of these characters with their beloved stars.

Provided that Morrison’s novel is set under the sign of the eye, these characters are placed before a hegemonic version of white beauty. Hollywood is everywhere and wherever they go. Leaving the store, Maureen and Pecola pass by the Dreamland cinema and Betty Grable smiles to them from up the posters. Cinema’s heroes and heroines are on posters and billboards. Publicity and advertising are remarkably massive and pervasive. Pecola tells Maureen how she most loves Heddy Lamarr. Maureen, in an ironic tone, relates for her the story of a girl named Audrey who comes in a beauty salon and solicit a haircut à la Heddy Lamarr. The need to identify with and emulate white stars is beyond undeniability. In Metzian terms, the cinematic signifier seems to increase rather than decrease the possibilities of identification.

Cinema, ostensibly, becomes the terrain where ideology is concocted and propagated. It is there, undeniably, where illusion is manufactured for consumption. Ideology, according to Jean-Paul Fargier, is a cinematic endproduct. Fargier underlines this fact emphasizing that “ [The screen] opens like a window, it is transparent. This illusion is the very substance of the specific ideology secreted by the cinema” (qtd. in Film Theory 140). The nexus between cinema and ideology is ultimately established. Andrew indicates that many film critics and analysts “recognized cinema to be a magnificent machine of ideology, conveying the norms and values of the status quo. They observed films in their blatant or subtle insistence on certain clusters of ideas, of beliefs, and of symbols” (Concepts 112). The different female characters, apparently, perceive cinema only as an instrument to satisfy their desire for unity, harmony, and beauty. “The forms of signification in film,” suggests D.N Rodowich in The Crisis of Political Modernism, determines necessarily “the forms of spectatorship, directing the spectator’s vision and desire” (4). In this context, Andrew provides further details:

Audiences are, in the first place, assigned their roles as spectators beneath the narrating authority of the film. Straining to totalize the world they inhabit, straining to achieve a sense of personal unity, they submit willingly, even passionately to the experience of cohesion which the film delivers to them in the beautiful compositions of its images and in the exhilarating logic of its tales. (Concepts 113)

In cinema before the screen, all the characters, except Maureen, long for an alteration of their blackness and the eradication of their perceived unattractiveness. The filmic discourse preaches the Americentric values and praises the dominant norms of white America and its polity. Jean-Louis Comolli and Jean Narboni both consider cinema as an ideological apparatus, a producer of ideology. In their work Cinema Ideology Criticism, Comolli and Narboni stress the inherent presence of an implicit discourse secreted by the cinema:

What the camera registers in fact is the vague, unformulated, untheorized, unthought-out world of the dominant ideology […] reproducing things not as they really are but as they appear when refracted through the ideology. This includes every stage in he process of production: subject, ‘styles’, forms, meanings, narrative traditions; all underline the general, ideological discourse. (11)

This dominant cinema, where Morrison’s characters seem to be drowned, disseminates a paradigm, or, say, a paragon of whiteness/beauty which is humiliating and degrading. The characters are the lost lambs; Hollywood is the overseer of the flock. The cinema exerts some control and discipline over these characters who are imbued with the dictates of Hollywood’s ideological discourse. They become tamed subjects and docile bodies of this media apparatus. Hollywood is a machine or what Michel Foucault calls a dispositif among other media apparatuses. In this regard, Andrew explicates:

In our culture the mass media are primary technologies of ideology, with the cinema standing in the forefront of these because of its remarkable illusionistic guise and because of the prestige and honor accorded it by the populace. Its technology has stressed the attainment of an ever-sharper realism through which to present the objects and stories which carry the messages of the day. (Concepts 113)

Cinema, in the final analysis, uses the permanence of a sustained game with fantasy to instil the concocted ideology. Hollywood, as a dream machinery, promotes a kind of an escapist fantasy. Hollywood is certainly enmeshed in the propagation of ideology. While it is true that films convey ideology, one must point out the inertia into which these characters seem to hibernate. Then, it is not only a matter of cinematic ideology but also of negative posture on the part of these female characters who become accomplices of their own oppression. The jeopardy is not this ideological discourse per se. What is actually at stake is this proclivity to perpetuate certain cultural ideals and social values that are prejudicial to Pauline, Pecola, Maureen, and even Claudia to certain respects. This cinematic ideological discourse translates the jingoism of a social class within the American society, that considers itself as the unique representative of universal norms and values. Morrison implicitly seems to preach instead cultural relativism and repudiates propagandist cinema and absolutist ideology. What to indict most is that hidden and invisible power structure that upholds an oppressive system of cultural abuse and ideological aggression. Morrison adjures the female members of the community and exhorts black women to return to reality and reject the illusionary tendencies of cinematic technology and filmic production.

Works Cited

  • Andrew, Dudley. Concepts in Film Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.
  • Baudrillard, Jean. Seduction. Trans. Brian Singer. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
  • Baudry, Jean-Louis. “Ideological Effects of the Basic cinematographic Apparatus.” Movies and Methods: An Anthology. Ed. Bill Nichols, 2 vols. Calcutta: Seagull, 1993.
  • Dubey, Madhu. Black Women Novelists and the National Aesthetics. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.
  • Grewal, Gurleen. Circles of Sorrow, Lines of Struggle: The Novels of Toni Morrison. Boston: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.
  • Holland, Norman. “Unity Identity Text Self.” in Reader Response Criticism. Ed., J. Tompkins. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.
  • hooks, bell. “The oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators.” In Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End P, 1992.
  • Metz, Christian. “The Fiction Film and Its Spectator.” In Imaginary Signifier. Trans. Alfred Guzzetti. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981.
  • Metz, Christian. “ Entretien avec Christian Metz.” Cahiers du Cinéma 7/8 (May 1975)
  • Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. London: Vintage, 1999.
  • Rodowick, D.N. The Crisis of Political Modernism: Criticism and Ideology in Contemporary Film Theory. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
  • Stam, Robert. Film Theory. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Inc, 2000.
  • Stokes, Melvyn. “Female Audiences of the 1920’s and Early 30’s.” Identifying Hollywood’s Audience: Cultural Identity at the Movies. Eds. Melvyn Stokes and Richard Maltby. London: BFI, 1999.