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Volume 4, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2045-6298
  • E-ISSN: 2045-6301



The work of American film-maker Shirley Clarke has been largely ignored by feminist film history and criticism. Yet, the three feature films she completed between 1961 and 1967 are pioneering examples of the way feminist issues can be engaged with outside of the gender specific framework of feminist film theory. Her film The Cool World (1963) presents an examination of the construction and representation of black masculinity as determined by a racist normative patriarchal order. This article analyses the film’s exploration of the question of black masculinity in relationship to the Black Power Movement and the persistence of a phallocentric patriarchy that ultimately renders any attempt to subvert the racist determination of masculinity, a failure.


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