Arzner, Dorothy (1897–1979)

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Chrysavgi Papagianni

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source of Publication

The International Encyclopedia of Gender, Media, and Communication

Publication Date



Dorothy Arzner was the only American woman that was successful in both the silent and the sound era. She was the only woman director working for Hollywood in the 1930s and one of the very few female Hollywood directors that have been successful from the 1920s to the 1940s. Arzner in fact came to symbolize everything that women could achieve in cinema and her work had a great influence on later women directors such as Ida Lupino, Joan Micklin Silver, and Elaine May. Her films were reclaimed by feminist scholars during the 1970s as texts that subvert patriarchal constructions of gender. In particular, feminist film critics often quote Arzner's Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) as a film that actively critiques the culture of the spectacle where the woman is objectified by the gaze of the camera. Overall, although Arzner uses the “master's tools,” she still manages to dismantle “the master's house” by denaturalizing the gender conventions of her era.




Arts and Humanities | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Open Access