Negotiating visions of modernity: Female stars, the melindrosa and desires for a Brazilian film industry | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-4837
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4845



This article examines discourses and elaborations of a Hollywood-inflected stardom in 1920s’ Brazilian cinema, focusing in particular on a new generation of female stars who emerged during this decade. It does so by tracing the elaboration of this American-style star system in the context of a vibrant urban consumer culture, one that depended on women. The discussion centres on two intersecting lines of enquiry. First, it explores how the development of female star texts was inextricably related to an urban mass culture that emerged in early-twentieth-century Brazil. In doing so, it highlights stardom’s dialogue with the figure of the melindrosa, Brazil’s own ‘new woman’. A symbolic and spectacular embodiment of urban modernity and women’s new public role in it, by the start of the twentieth century, the melindrosa proliferated in the country’s magazines and popular novels and became a key intertext for films of the period and especially their stars. Second, the article relates this complex and contradictory embodiment of female stars to discussions concerning Brazilian cinema itself. It explores the ways in which female stardom of the 1920s and, by extension, women’s consumer culture played a key role in forging a Brazilian film industry.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Brazilian film industry; consumerism; fanzines; Hollywood; modernity; new woman
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